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Rebecca Davison jumps on her magic carpet to get an overview of exciting new workshops bringing children into London’s latest art exhibitions and galleries

Parents are under increased criticism for pushing their children into a test–driven existence and failing to give them the time or the tools to explore the arts. Whilst the majority want to instill in our next generation an understanding of our cultural heritage, it is sometimes difficult to encourage kids when we have little time or lack a full understanding ourselves. Today, London’s art galleries, have reinvented themselves to get kids and parents into the galleries together, to get their hands dirty and to get them hooked on the art that surrounds them.

The National Gallery

The National Gallery has come up with a cool way of getting kids involved in the appreciation and understanding of art even before the age of 5. With a programme of Magic Carpet Storytelling, each Sunday the magic carpet comes to land in front of a different painting for half an hour of fantastic stories featuring the chosen picture.

Worth visiting: The Take One Picture exhibition of work by primary schools inspired by Rubens’s ‘A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning’.

Design Museum

See how a British architect has changed the skylines of many cities; he has built iconic buildings in London, Paris, Madrid and even Cardiff. The winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2007, Richard Rogers is featured in the Design Museum’s main exhibition through until August. A self–confessed dyslexic, his designs have had untold influence on contemporary buildings around the world.

One of the most dynamic ranges of Sunday workshops is offered by the Design Museum, where children can use their imagination and creativity by getting involved in fashion, graphics, furniture and millinery projects.

Royal Academy of Art

The annual Summer Exhibition is a great opportunity for children to experience art of all shapes and sizes from professional and amateurs alike. It can seem overwhelming to adults, let alone children and is certainly very popular. We suggest you choose your time carefully and be selective as to what you look at and how much time you spend in each gallery. A very good way of involving your children is to play the “art game” – get your child to choose their best “picture” but it must be through careful observation. They have to describe the picture and tell you why they liked it.

The Tate – Britain and Modern

“Families have a great day out at the Tate.” The Tate Galleries have extensive family, kids and educational programmes. A quick visit to their website will reveal all.

Their programmes are inspirational – from on–line art games to becoming an art detective, from writing a story based on one of the Tate’s works of art to making and wearing carnival masks. You can even create your own art collection.

Beware! You may get the awkward question: “Is that art?” when you view Duchamp’s urinal on display until the 26th May.

Victoria and Albert Museum

“The world’s greatest museum of art and design”. With the Olympics coming up in August and a lot of interest in the burgeoning economy the China Now exhibition is on until 14th July. There are also workshops for 13 – 18 year olds on various related subjects. An interesting workshop during half term is “Create Fantasy Furniture” – Museum of Childhood.

Also visit the V&A’s Museum of Childhood located in Bethnal Green. Often overlooked, it has an extensive programme of events and activities for children, plus things to do and make at home. Forthcoming events include a Poetry Day with Michael Rosen, a Father’s Day event as well a Refugee Week.


National Gallery – Free family Sundays. Storytelling Sundays from 11.30am to 12pm for under 5s and workshops for over 5s at 11am and 2pm  Take One Picture exhibition runs until 13 July 2008

Design Museum – Sunday workshops for ages 5 to 11 from 2pm to 5pm  or 0207 9408783


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