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Top tips for visiting galleries and museums with kids

Visiting an art gallery with children can be one of the most inspiring, insightful and fun experiences to have as a family. Knowing how to get the most out of your visit will have your children claiming they’ve had ‘the best day ever!’

1. Warm up

Involve your children in planning their visit to the Gallery. Take a look at the Gallery’s website and find out what exhibitions are on. Check out our collection online and find a couple of artworks that will be on display when you visit. Decide together which ones you’d like to see in the flesh. I wonder what they will look like in real life?

Before you visit, it’s a great idea to talk to your kids about how they can help look after the artwork for centuries to come. A few things to remember:

  • We can’t touch the artwork as the natural oils that keep our skin soft can damage the art.
  • Be careful not to get too close to the art or run in the Gallery as bigger accidents can happen.
  • We love to hear talking in the Gallery. An ‘indoor voice’ is the best voice to use so that we don’t disturb other visitors.

2. Make a plan

Once you know which artworks you would like to see when you arrive, find out where they are located in the building. Take a look at our floorplan ahead of time and know where you are going before you arrive. It helps to know where the toilets are too – for those little emergencies.

At the Gallery, our friendly gallery hosts will be able to help you find your way around if you get lost.

3. Ages and stages

Make the length of your visit appropriate to the age and stage of your child’s development. A short and focused 30-minute visit can be fun and enriching for a family. Don’t be afraid to have a short and sweet 15-minute visit with your toddlers – this can still create a strong and lasting memory. Break your visit up with a trip to the cafe (or a picnic in the gardens) and read ‘tired signals’ before fatigue sets in.

4. Follow their lead

Follow the lead of your children. Let them guide you to artworks they are interested in. Ask them questions about the works they have chosen. For example, ‘what can you see in this picture?’ or ‘what makes this an interesting artwork for you?’ Adults are often amazed by the incredible ideas that children discover in art.

5. Engage

We have a fantastic range of fun and playful family activities to inspire looking, thinking and making. Find out what’s available online before you visit or ask at the information desk when you arrive.

It’s always a good idea to have a sketchbook and pencil on hand and encourage your children to capture what they see in the art they are looking at. Drawing is one of the best ways to help us learn to look.

6. Make a stop at the shop

Children love taking home a memento of their visit. Stop in the Gallery Shop on your way out and choose a postcard of a favourite artwork you have seen that day. The shop also stocks a terrific range of art-related children’s products to inspire a love of learning about art.

Two kids with art they have made in front of an artwork

Two young visitors with art they have made, inspired by John Olsen’s 1963 painting Five bells, Art Gallery of New South Wales © John Olsen, licensed by Viscopy, Sydney