The National Gallery
Visiting London is lots of fun with the kids, and its great to take advantage of all the free attractions. For Davinder and I taking the kids to art galleries is essential, even at such a young age, like Joshua who is only Four.
Its ideal as you don't need to pay for them, apart from a donation of your choice, and they get to explore all kinds of famous art works, some of which may be of no interest, but some will just enthral them.
We took them to the National Gallery knowing that there would be a variety of artists to explore. As you approach the gallery you will pass the famous Trafalgar Square, of course this excited Caleb since he remembered the scene from 'A night at the museum 3', the lions surrounding nelsons column came to life.
Here You can see the National gallery in the background. There are plenty of crowds here to navigate as you approach the gallery and in this open space there is plenty of street entertainment. But once you enter the gallery you are met with peace and calm from this bustling atmosphere. Although the gallery is popular and of course quite busy, it didn't feel crowded and you never felt like you were unable to take things in.
So many of the paintings in The National Gallery are so grand in scale, its not something children get to see everyday. It always amazes me when I see a painting I've known from books for the first time in real life, and have not anticipated the huge scale.
Like when I saw Seurat's painting 'A Bathing Scene At Asnieres' I had no idea of the emence Scale. It amazed me even more since he was famous for his painting style known as Pointillism, a system of applying the paint in isolated dots of pure colour. This particular painting was his first work completed in this grand scale and style.
There is something about having always known a painting but then seeing it first hand, it changes your whole perspective and it enriches your appreciation for the artist. Even Naomi recognised the painting from something she had seen on a wall or in a book at school. Now that she has seen the true scale she has a new perspective on the artist, Its a wonderful thing.
You can't expect to spend hours on end in a gallery like this with children, and believe me a tiny part of you will be frustrated by that as you want to soak it all in and just sit and be completive, but you can enter each room in the gallery and ask your children to look for things, you can find a bench and sit down together and ask them what do they see? almost turn it into a fun game.
Their attention span is so small especially when you are only Four years old! But you can play a game and ask them questions such as "Can you find the baby Jesus?"
So whilst you are trying to enjoy the paintings in the renaissance galleries, your four year old is kept happy with the spot Jesus game, its all about compromise!
Of course once you have instigated the can you spot kind of games in a gallery like this, you know you are asking for trouble with your older kids, and things soon turn into a can you spot the bare bottom painting etc... What can I say ? you either Laugh with them, or hang your head in shame that they are your Children! But Hey we love them so we just go with the flow. As Naomi quite rightly said "there were a lot of naked people in old paintings"
Some paintings raise more serious questions, and that allows us to talk about how they feel and what the image is about. Since its quite a gruesome painting, it can intrigue them, as its not photographic, you feel relaxed about them seeing it. This is not always the case but this example here is ok.
We were keen for them to see the impressionist galleries, as these are such familiar works that children so often respond well to, and are often recognised and enjoyed by all.
Such as famous works by Monet like 'The Lily Pond', admired by so many and such amazing colours.
Naomi Standing in front of Edouard Vuillard.
Joshua Kind of taking it all in.
So the ceiling in this place is also pretty awesome.
But when your children decide that laying down on the provided seating in the gallery is more fun than looking at paintings, thats your que to leave. Don't push them, seriously we've tried it before! When your kids have checked out, they really have checked out! You can't Squeeze any ounce of enthusiasm from them, to push on through for a tiny bit longer. Read the signs they are done! therefore so are you.
I know you would want to spend the entire afternoon here, maybe even the day but with kids its a No No.
You might be thinking, is it really worth taking my kids somewhere like this? Won't they hate every minute? well Yes they might, but it is worth it and you can engage with them, and later on you will reap the benefit of your kids really appreciating art.
Thats all for today.
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tell us about your favourite galleries.