Galleries in your area: introducing children to art


child at art gallery

In the dark winter months do you find yourself searching for exciting new places to visit indoors? Art galleries can be a fun day out for all the family.

To make the most of your trip, here are some simple tips from educational charity Magic Lantern on getting children interacting with and talking about the art they see: 

  • Let them take the lead - Allow your child to explore the art on offer and see what catches their eye. Be open to any questions or comments they have about a piece of art, and then develop on the things they're already noticing.
  • Ask questions - Find out what it is they see in a picture or sculpture. Ask about how it makes them feel or what it reminds them of. Think about senses - how would it smell, feel or taste? Don't be surprised if their answers are not what you'd expect!
  • Pick out things they recognise - Look for colours and shapes together. Identify familiar items or characters, such as children or animals, that they can relate to.
  • Tell stories - Get your child to think about what might be happening in the image they're looking at, and extend the story past what they can see in front of them - what else is happening? Let their imaginations run wild.


Now to put this into action - over to our Local editors for an introduction to some great galleries you can visit round your way. 


North East



balticBaltic Gateshead

This beautifully restored former flour mill has been transformed into a contemporary art gallery. The children's area is a lovely, colourful fun space and there are a variety of activities organised, with families in mind. There are drop-in sessions for children at weekends.


gatesheadShipley Art Gallery Gateshead

Over the last 25 years, Shipley has been established as a national centre for contemporary craft and has built up one of the best collections outside London, including ceramics, wood, metal, glass, textiles and furniture. The Shipley Scamps creative group for the under fives meet every Wednesday.


northern printNorthern Print Newcastle

Northern Print is both a gallery and working studios. This is a very friendly and welcoming studio, which runs a variety of events and courses, as well as working with schools and colleges.


newcastle artLaing Art Gallery Newcastle

The Laing is home to an impressive collection of art and sculpture and its exhibition programme is renowned for bringing the biggest names in historic, modern and contemporary art to the North East. The Gallery has a packed programme of free events, including gallery talks and family activities like ARTventure Backpacks (activity kits available to borrow from reception).


bailiffingateBailiffgate Museum Alnwick

The Baliffgate Museum gallery space has displayed a range of local artists and is part of a very family friendly museum, with plenty of hands-on activities for early years children. It runs activities especially for children, such as Family Fridays, which explore local history, art and geography in a fun and creative way.


berwickBerwick Museum and Art Gallery Berwick-upon-Tweed

Situated within the Clock Block at Berwick Barracks, the Berwick gallery is home to a collection of paintings, drawings and ceramics. There is a collection of work by local artists as well as Degas, Boudin and Daubigny. Especially for children, there is dressing up and some interactive exhibits.


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North West




manchesterManchester Art Gallery City Centre

Manchester Art Gallery isne of the region's most popular cultural destinations, attracting more than 400,000 visits each year. The gallery has won many awards and developed a national reputation for its high quality, audience-focused services. The collection spans six centuries up to the present day, but is especially renowned for its 19th century British paintings.


loweryThe Lowry Salford

Housing a theatre, art gallery and exhibition space, The Lowry hosts children's activities and events in the heart of the re-developed Salfrod Quays. It provides an eclectic mix of artistic opportunity and helps visitors get the most from their experience by being informative and interactive. 


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wimbledonWimbledon Space Merton

Wimbledon Space is a public gallery at Wimbledon College of Arts that hosts an ambitious programme of exhibitions and events each year, which is developed to reflect the changing research interests of the college.


stockwellArt4Space Community Art Centre Stockwell

Art4Space uses the arts to encourage creative self-expression, boost self-esteem and self-confidence. The centre runs courses, co-produced with the students, so children can experience a range of creative mediums and record their processes, building a portfolio of work for their Arts Awards certificate.


hoxtonArtburst Hoxton

Artburst is an award-winning social enterprise, providing creative educational workshops that improve the lives of young people and their families. Artburst works with a wide range of participants, from children with learning difficulties to families from disadvantaged backgrounds. It works under the ethos that access to the arts should not be exclusive.


william morrisWilliam Morris Gallery Walthamstow

The William Morris Gallery is the only gallery devoted to the life and work of the influential designer, craftsman and writer William Morris. It is housed in a Georgian, grade II* listed building that was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856.


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South East




gunwharfAspex Gallery Gunwharf Quays

Aspex is more than a gallery, it's a space for questions – creating conversations and cultivating connections: a great place to get your children interested in art.

Based in the historic Vulcan Building in Gunwharf Quays since 2006,  seasons are based around questions – for example, 'Does Making Things Make us Human?' or 'What's Your Revolution?'


st barbeSt Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymington

An exceptionally family-friendly museum with many hands-on opportunities for children. Problem-solving, finding hidden contraband, a pilot boat to navigate, toys and dressing up are just some of the activities on offer. Trails for all ages exploring the displays are available for free.


southampton artSouthampton City Art Gallery Southampton Centre

Southampton City Art Gallery is internationally renowned for its permanent collection, which spans eight centuries. The high quality exhibitions ranging from painting, sculpture and drawing, to photography and film, change regularly to ensure new experiences with each visit. The venue caters for families, with gallery trails through the exhibitions, monthly art clubs and a fantastic range of activities for all ages.


jellyJelly Reading centre

Jelly is an energetic charity championing the creative arts. The gallery has played a strategic role in Reading's cultural life since 1993, enabling art to appear in unexpected places and creating opportunities for people to look on and join in. Believing in the power of the arts to delight, intrigue, challenge and enrich, Jelly is committed to forming creative alliances and partnerships that encourage art and cultural life to flourish.



The Lightbox Woking

The Lightbox gallery and museum reached the shortlist of six finalists for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2014. It features some of the most exciting spaces in the South East, including three stunning galleries hosting a huge range of exhibitions. There are lots of hands-on activities and interactive displays.


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South West




hannah's devonHannahs at Seale-Hayne Devon

Set among 90 acres of beautiful grounds, the gallery at Seale-Hayne is open to everyone seven days a week, selling a range of hand-made gifts by local artists, as well as its resident artists and students. Building on its relationship with some of the most respected galleries in the UK, the gallery will feature a street art exhibition on loan from the V&A.


exmouth lookartLOOKart Gallery Exmouth

LOOKart has opened as a fun gallery for children and adults, which is both welcoming and affordable. It will include the local, unique and quirky, and will always be trying to find something you've never seen before.


bournemouthRussell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum Bournemouth Centre

The main part of the Russell-Cotes complex, East Cliff Hall, was built between 1897 and 1901 and is a combination of Italianate villa and Scottish Baronial. It is set in grounds incorporating a Japanese garden, situated on the cliff top in Bournemouth.


plymouthPlymouth City Museum and Art Gallery Plymouth Centre

Plymouth City's permanent galleries highlight its extensive collections in fine art, decorative art, human history (including archaeology and world cultures) and natural history. There are nine different permanent displays as well as visiting exhibitions. 


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East of England




peterboroughCity Gallery Peterborough Preistgate

Situated within Peterborough Museum, City Gallery is home to an impressive variety of art dating from the 1600s right through to the present day. The gallery also has a rolling programme of work by local, national and international artists.


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notts contempNottingham Contemporary Nottingham centre

One of the most artistically and architecturally significant buildings in Nottingham, the contemporary gallery has really added some intrigue to the city centre. It's only a few years old and runs a great outreach programme, with lots of imaginative drop-in workshops - all free. The cafe is good and very baby- and child-friendly.


notts museum

Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery Nottingham centre

Nottingham Castle Museum and Gallery is your standard town artistic fixture, with a good little permanent collection and some strong temporary exhibitions. Good for engaging children with paintings, and there are various events to attend.


hysonNew Art Exchange Hyson Green

New Art Exchange is a new, interesting and welcoming space, with lots of great free activities. This space is very community-focused - its brief is to 'celebrate the region's cultural richness and diversity'.


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Magic Lantern is an educational charity that introduces children to great works of art through interactive workshops, helping them explore all manner of subjects and develop observation, communication and critical thinking skills. Visit the website to find out more.


Last updated: about 3 years ago