What’s on … kids at the art gallery

Written by kim cotton on . Posted in all, On Love of Learning

Little girl wearing beautiful art smockGet the kids in touch with their creative side by visiting an art gallery where they can explore, make, craft and play under the guiding hand of you, teachers and, of course, the masters.

Playing at the art gallery

The state art galleries across Australia are veritable playgrounds for kids. Most major galleries host children’s programs during the school holidays which are both educationally rewarding but also fun as they draw out interesting features on particular art forms or artists. The sessions (try to book in advance) may involve the children going on a small discovery tour around the gallery before being lead to a special craft room to paint their impression of what the artist has produced, or make craft based on a theme – this is great for the kids and it can give you some time to see a collection or take time out for a coffee at the cafe … divine!

Kids art classes at the art galleries

My daughter’s first organised art lesson was at the NSW Art Gallery. The session was based on the painting of the The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Edward John Poynter. An ambitious painting for a group of children all aged under five, however the theme was patterns, and the clever teachers asked them to identify patterns and shapes on the stairs, on the columns and the ceilings. Once they’d explored the painting enough for the kids to get the general drift, they were taken to a little room all set up to go including art smocks and craft equipment. There the children designed jewellery boxes fit for the Queen of Sheba using patterns on paper and plastic gems with the help of artists and assistants. It was such a good activity that we still have the jewellery box! It houses our little craft gems now and is a wonderful memory of a lovely rich afternoon of activity. 

Sketching at the art gallery with an art pad and charcoal


If the programs are full or you’d rather do something with your children then take a small sketch pad and some charcoal and help them draw a painting they like. I do this often while we’re on holidays because it gives my little one something to do while I can enjoy the art without the “I’m bored” whispers filling my head. Find a seat and choose a fairly simple object perhaps by Cezanne, Margaret Olley or Margaret Preston – all prolific artists who created lovely still life images. Study the chosen painting a little and then encourage your child to draw its shape or outline. You’ll find adults and children peering on watching what your little artist is creating while your child engages in the moment. 

Fun at the art galleryPlaying ‘I Spy’ at the art gallery

If your child can’t sit for long try playing a more active game. Have a scout around at some of the images when you enter each new gallery section. Find objects in the paintings and ask your child to them try and discover them. Once you have talk about the objects and what they’re being used for. Then similarly, ask your child to do the same and you hunt them out. It’s a bit like an art version of ‘I Spy’. Ask them to also pick out their favourite painting and talk about why they like it – use this for the next activity at home.

More art games for home

Once you leave the gallery, don’t let the action stop. On the way home, take some images that you and your child / kids like. In fact if your little one is old enough to hold the phone/camera get them to take a few shots too. Buy some simple craft objects – gems, stars, pipe cleaners, paper flowers and other assortments and ask your child to ‘go wild’ – create something they remember from their day. You can prompt them with the pictures if you like or ask them to recall what picture they loved most at the gallery.

National art galleries with kids programs

Art Gallery of New South Wales 

Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Queensland Art Gallery

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Matching treasures – our beautiful French art smocks and French art set


     Spirited Mama - pretty art smock with small flowers            French retro colouring box         Mots sur le sable child's art smock

Linking to the lovely withsomegrace


Comments (5)

  • [email protected] on Tour


    I love how art gallerys and museums are becoming so much more kids oriented, offering great activities to keep them entertained.


    • Kim


      It’s great isn’t it Sally? I just love it for the kids (and me).


  • Alicia


    We have a gallery in our small town library. Every school holidays more so the library puts on crafty activities in there for the kids. I can imagine this time it will be easter orientated.
    I really like your ideas for art galleries 🙂


  • Kim


    Thanks Alicia – i found it a haven when my daughter was smaller – we had a crafty library up the road too – i think it’s such a wonderful way to entertain children and help them to make, create and fix things too – my one has become a bit of a tinker now, always making something. I love it.


  • older mum in a muddle


    Some great suggestions…. I love taking Little A to galleries and museums – I took her to one the other day and she spent most of her time knelt on the floor drawing! X


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