Museums house the greatest treasures of our culture.
Items inside a museum such as paintings of a world-renowned artists, interesting art installation, thought provoking sculptures or a piece of history carved in a stone – they are all proudly on display for guests young and old to see and appreciate.
A study by University of Kansas researcher found that “students who were selected to visit a museum shows stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions.”
Australia will not run out of museums no matter which state or region you are in. Each museum offer different kinds of tours and even programs specially catered for very young children:
Australian Capital Territory
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT
+61 2 6240 6411
The National Gallery’s vision is to enrich Australia’s culture through access to their national art gallery enhancing the people’s understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts.
The Gallery offers free scheduled guided tours (no bookings necessary) to view the permanent collection. Gallery Highlight Tours are offered daily at 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 1.30 and 2.30 for a 30mins -1 hour tour.
The permanent collection is open every day except on Christmas day. For more information, call +61 2 6240 6502.
For organised, educational tours, the Gallery provides a 30-45 minute long Early Childhood tours conducted by trained guides. Gallery educators are available upon requests. For additional information contact +61 2 6240 6519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New South Wales
500 Harris St, Ultimo NSW
02 9217 0222
The Museum of Applied Art and Science (MAAS) emphasizes learning and creativity whether their visitors are preschoolers or elders.
Different tours and activities are available in three different locations:
- Powerhouse Museum (Ultimo)
- Sydney Observatory (Watsons Rd, Millers Point)
- Museums Discovery Centre (Castle Hill)
Activities are linked to the curriculum and are facilitated by the educator. However, they are only available during NSW school term weekdays.
Contact the Museum’s Visitor Services team for weekends and school holidays activities.
Ticket prices for self-directed visit is free while educator-led visits cost $10 per learner. RAM Equity schools cost $2.50 to $5 per learner.
Video conference are highly interactive screen-based lessons brought directly to your classroom led by MAAS educators and guest experts. This 45 to 1 hour lesson costs $110 per class, per session and only $55 per class for RAM Equity schools.
For school tours of children under 5, supervisor to learner ratios are 1:2. Children with special needs are welcomed so long as there is 1 supervisor per child with special needs.
Art exhibitions are available year round, please check the website for updated events.
140 George St, The Rocks NSW
+61 2 9245 2400
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is built on The Rocks that was known then as Tallawoladah by the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people or the Eora nation.
This day, MCA stands on the edge of the harbour housing national resource for education, interpretative programs and galleries for exhibition. It opened to the public to inform and educate about international contemporary visual art as initially envisioned by artist John Power.
MCA offers Art Escapades program to young children. This program lets children study artworks, experiment with different art-making materials and processes. The 60 or 90-minute program encourages children to use art language, creative and critical thinking skills.
The program costs $135 per 10 students (1 hour session) and $190 per 10 students (1 ½ hours).
The museum also offers programs for children with special needs and family centred activities along with activities available for all other school ages and young artists.
In addition, events and exhibits are a plenty here in MCA, check their website to look for one that would best suit your needs.
Stanley Pl, South Brisbane QLD
+61 7 3840 7303
Located at the Cultural Precint at Brisbane’s South Bank, the gallery envisions to become the “leading institution for the contemporary art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific” with 16,000 works of art.
The gallery also holds exhibitions and is home to the Children’s Art Centre and the Australian Cinémathèque.
Galleries are open daily from 10 to 5 except on certain holidays. Entrance is free except for some exhibitions and special events that may have an entry fee.
Happily, the Children’s Art Centre is always free and they offer a lot of exciting activities for children.
School tours are also available, contact the Gallery to discuss how they can address your curriculum needs.
North Terrace, Adelaide
+61 8 8207 7500
The 5-floor museum is located at the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct making it very accessible to most transportation means.
They offer free guided tours everyday at 11 am on weekdays and 2pm and 3pm on weekends and public holidays.
You can also book sessions for children like Young Explorers – Inside Out (skeletons and skins), specifically tailored for children 3-5 years old. The session is free, but you need to book a date with the museum.
Dunn Pl, Hobart TAS 7000
+61 3 6165 7000
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is Australia’s second-oldest museum and is Tasmania’s “leading natural, cultural and heritage organisation. It is a combined museum, art gallery and herbarium which safeguards the physical evidence of Tasmania’s natural and cultural heritage, and the cultural identity of Tasmanians.”
TMAG is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm except on Good Friday and Christmas Day. Admission is also free except for certain exhibitions that may require a fee.
TMAG has a lot of exhibits offered for the visitors and they also have school programs for primary aged students to K-6 and older.
Early learning programs are also available for children up to 5 years old. This program is located in the new Centre for Learning and Discovery space. The program includes Eye Spy and Curious Caterpillars Playgroups. For schedule, fee and bookings e-mail email@example.com
11 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC
+61 3 8341 7777
Operated by Museum Victoria along with three other museums, award-winning Melbourne Museum houses 8 galleries including 1 that is specifically designed for children.
The general entry fee of $14 for adults and free for children.
For educational tours, there are 8 interesting activities especially for young children to choose from. Bookings for semester 1 should be made by December 1st and May 1st for semester 2. Bookings are Monday-Friday starting 8:30 am.
Book by phone at 03 8341 7767.
Education group fees start at $22 for groups of 10-50, educators and supervisors are admitted for free.
The museum recommends a ration of 1 adult per 3 children for the museum tour and activities.
If you are interested to visit the IMAX and maybe book a film for the children check out their site to choose from several films and book a date.
By December 2016, the Museum also plans to open the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery envisioned to create “A wondrous museum space filled with multi-sensory, child-led, play-based learning adventures where children’s minds run free.”
2 Booker St, Spotswood VIC
+61 3 9392 4800
This museum in Spotswood Melbourne, focuses on giving hands-on, fun and interactive learning about science and technology.
General entry to the museum also cost $14 for adults and free for children. If you want to try the planetarium show or lightning room show for an additional cost of $6 for adults and $4.50 for children.
They also offer two activities for children: Nitty Gritty and Tycho to the Moon package and Nitty Gritty Science. Booking dates are similar to that of Melbourne Museum. If you are interested, call 03 9392 4819
Similar to Melbourne Museum, education group fees start at $22 for groups of 10-50, educators and supervisors are admitted for free.
The museum recommends a ration of 1 adult per 3 children for the museum tour and activities.
The Melbourne Planetarium is also housed here in Scienceworks presenting a simulated display of the night sky. The awesome astronomical experience is made possible by a “16m domed ceiling, reclining seats, a stereo surround sound system and has recently been upgraded to incorporate Sky-Skan’s DigitalSky projection system”.
Perth Cultural Centre, James St, Perth WA
+61 8 9212 3700
The Museum reflects Western Australia’s “rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage” with branches in:
- Western Australian Museum – Albany
- Western Australian Museum – Geraldton
- Western Australian Museum – Kalgoorlie / Boulder
- Western Australian Museum – Maritime
- Western Australian Museum – Perth
- Western Australian Museum – Shipwreck Galleries
The Western Australian Museum in Perth offers exhibits and permanent collection. It is open Mondays to Sundays from 9.30am to 5pm except on certain holidays. Entrance in the Museum is free except for some attractions and exhibitions. There is a suggested $5 donation is appreciated.
The Museum has free wi-fi and a Play space for children.
In addition, it also offers a school program for children in the Discovery Centre for children at K-3.
Trips to the museum and art galleries need not be stuffy and boring. Most museums have programs for children and families and school programs as well.
If you do plan to have a visit in your museum or art gallery always hve these tips in mind:
- Prepare the children for the visit. You may want to show pictures or video clips of the place so they have an idea of what to expect.
- Take advantage of school programs or guided tours. It is okay if someone else is in charge. Also, they are probably the experts in the museum unless maybe, you also have a major in art.
- Set the rules. This is very, very important. A museum has a lot of things to see and tinker and space to run. It can overwhelm your children to tears or invite them to run. Expect those reactions but at the same time, let the children know how you expect them to behave in the museum.
- Let children wear comfortable walking shoes (you too). A tour may mean stretches of walking. Also, wear something comfortable if you planned an active program.
- Do not plan to go through every floor of the museum. Seriously. Unless you want your children to get grumpy.
- Be flexible. A lot of things can happen and some places in the itinerary might not fit in the schedule. It is ok. As long as the kids enjoyed and learn something new. They can always come back again.
- Limit the time. An hour or so in the museum is a long time for very young children, unless they are engaged in an interactive program. Also, children may get tired if they stay for too long.
- Do not forget to eat. Include snack and/or lunch in your itinerary and visits to the loo.
- Do not bring too much stuff. Check the websites to find out what things are allowed and restricted inside the museum.
- Invite parents to come along. There are museums that require young children to be accompanied by an adult. Besides, if it is possible for adults to tag along in the package, then it is a great family idea as well.
You may also want to show a book of different artists and their work so that the children will have a feeling of the importance of the art works on display.
Have fun touring!
Special thanks to Play & Go for the main image.