The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces at the NGV is a highlight of the arts calendar and in 2016 we welcome one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of the work of Degas (the biggest to ever be shown in Australia). There is plenty in the collection to delight young gallery visitors.
When: until 18 September 2016, open daily 10am – 5pm
Where: NGV International, St Kilda Road MELBOURNE
Cost: Adult $28, child $10, family $65 – avoid ques and pre-purchase online here.
I highly recommend purchasing a copy of the accompanying book Degas: An Art Book For Kids ($15) as it’s filled with curious anecdotes about Degas and the time he lived in – in a fun and engaging way. Even my favourite ice-cream shop in Paris gets a mention! You may even want to pre-purchase the book so that you can talk about Degas before you go.
This exhibition is a very traditionally presented body of work – the kind you walk around slowly and talk in hushed tones (if at all). And while that’s not the kind of space that naturally works for every kid – I am in the camp that believes it’s great to expose my children to new things and experiences; it’s also good for a certain eight-year-old Meetoo reviewer to occasionally practise using his talking voice and walking sensibly.
While there are no “interactive” elements this exhibition is full of engaging work that covers topics that children can identify with (horses, ballet, family). The audio guide is not specific to children – but it does provide insights and storytelling that potentially could engage the younger viewers for a little longer if you’re hoping to pause and reflect over the artwork yourself. Degas life was an interesting one – and the late 1800’s in Paris was an interesting period in history and art.
As with any exhibition like this I highly recommend setting realistic expectations – know your child’s limits and be prepared for things to not always go to plan. I find I get the best outcomes if I either:
- plan to visit twice – once with kids and another time without, or
- only take one child and make a special “date” of it – without a sibling/s to niggle we get some special one on one time and they feel a bit grown up, or
- take reinforcements in the shape of other grown-ups – allowing you to take turns in parenting (possibly outside in the garden or NGV Kids space).
While you are at the Gallery be sure to check out the kids exhibition (FREE) Fake Food Park on the ground floor and if the weather permits head out into the garden at the back for a bit of a runaround. There are so many great things to see in the permanent exhibition upstairs that if you’ve time it’s well worth exploring more of the NGV.