Notes from NGV Kids Corner

Aristotle: “The whole is different from the sum of its parts”


This morning Charlie and I headed into town to test run the new Kids Corner at the NGV International.  I don’t know about you but there are certain steps I factor into preparing for an outing and this morning was no different – after dropping his sister at school we had a little chat about how the morning was going to pan out (briefing: check) and before we got to the train station we stopped for a coffee and the days first snack (fed, watered and toileted: check) we then proceeded to the station and after 2minutes wait we were on our way to town (something fun for Charlie: check) and then had a little bit of walking to the Gallery (excess energy burnt off: check).  By the time we trailed our fingers through the water wall, entering the gallery, we were in a fine frame of mind.

Last time we visited there was an installation (by NZ artist Michael Parekowhai) of a giant inflatable rabbit in the central hall – and so as we passed the cloakroom Charlie was all excited thinking he would see the “big bunny”.   He was a little miffed to find the bunny gone and in its place the entrance to the Kids Space – but he did approach with interest as inside the dark space there were bright flashes of colour illuminated by spotlights and a hypnotic projection on the back wall… (travelling clockwise) we tore past all the exhibits in the first two rooms and it was only in the third/last room that he slowed pace… stopping finally at the exit to inspect large foam building blocks and a colour and shape matching activity.  He decided to check the shape matching out for a few minutes and then headed towards the exit… I decided not to push him to stay and so followed him into the Great Hall, which is a familiar space.

While he had another snack we talked about what to do next and he decided to have another look at the Kids Space – I noticed the school group that had been in there earlier was now leaving so hoped that this meant he could try out a few more activities at his own leisure.  We headed back into the last room (the area to the right of the entrance) and he decided to sit and do some drawing, then moved to an interactive screen (which other than level one I couldn’t really get it to work – clearly computer games are not my forte!) and had some fun popping virtual balloons of paint onto elephants (I wasn’t sure about the environmental message – but the toddlers were loving it).  We built a tower out of the foam blocks near the door and then decided it was time to make tracks for home.

It’s a wonderful tribute to the Gallery that they openly welcome kids – already there are so many fabulous experiences for children at the NGV International (think water wall, Great Hall, garden area at the back, numerous free exhibitions, to name but a few). Until now, other than the activities during school holidays, there has been nothing dedicated and tailored to children quite like the Kids Space.

I am sure over time the space will evolve too… I have to note that as a parent of a pre-schooler, I felt a little anxious about the concept of bringing both my kids during a busy school holiday time – there is no clear line of sight across the whole area, nor is the exit/entrance area easy to view unless you are right next to it.  While we were there the guard who was on duty came walking around calling out – “has anyone lost a child” and I saw the toddler scooting off across the courtyard in the direction of the escalator (turned out her mother had gone to get coffees for her and her friend and left the friend in charge of both kids).

In comparison with the Kids Corner at the NGV Fed Square, I felt the Kids Space lacked the same level of interaction that has been built into the Corner with its cubbyholes and sloping floors.  Also being a smaller area with a guard-activated door meant as a parent you could sit in one spot in the Corner and know where the children were at all times.

Nevertheless what a great place to meet friends with kids – within an environment that has so much to offer all under one roof!  Thank you NGV – leading the way in quality experiential accessible destinations for families!

Information correct at time of publishing, June 2011