A favourite excursion for all SOEL centres is to local art galleries and museums with the children. Unfortunately, during COVID it was impossible to go in person. During this time, our children could view international exhibits with Google Arts & Culture. The website links to hundreds of paintings and pieces of art all across the world from renowned museums and galleries. Now this favourite SOEL excursion can become an incursion you can enjoy in your own home.

Image of a child peering through the middle of a rounded metal circle.

Looking at Art Galleries with Children

When we visit museums and galleries, we first have conversations about the place we are visiting. What is it? What should we do in it? Can we touch the art? We also have a conversation about the name of the place we are visiting. Why is the MoMA called the MoMA? What is an art gallery? What is an artist? Are we also artists? These questions provoke more in-depth thinking and contemplation. These are questions you can ask your child at home.

At Art Galleries, Educators take clipboards and a medium (oil pastels, watercolours, pencils or textures) for the children to draw with. They focus either on a particular piece of art that they want to reflect on a bit further, or they ask the children to position themselves near an art piece they enjoyed.

At home, see what piece of art fascinates your child, there’s so many to choose from. Print off the art piece or keep it up on a screen and give them some art supplies to work with. The aim isn’t to draw a replica of what they are seeing but to make meaning of what they see and perhaps gain inspiration from it.

You can provide your child with some colours, textures or even sounds to continue to engage with and deepen this dialogue of reflection and finding inspiration in art. Perhaps you could play the sound of a rainy day while looking at this work from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston ‘Rain over São Paulo’ or the sounds of hens clucking about in connection to this work called ‘My first Egg’, by José Maria Sousa de Moura Girão from 1914.

Image of the painting Chuva Sobre São Paulo (Rain over São Paulo) by Maria Auxiliadora1971
Chuva Sobre São Paulo (Rain over São Paulo) by Maria Auxiliadora1971

Questions to Ask

Why did it catch your attention? Was it the colour? The texture? The marks? The size?

Was it a sculpture, a painting, a weaving, a temporary composition?

What is the name of the artist and the title of the work?

Why is it called that?

What does it remind you of?

Remember to listen carefully to what your child tells you and go with it, follow their lead. If your child is really interested in Salvador Dali’s Moustache rather than his surrealist work, then go with that!

Van Gogh and the SOEL Babies

Art is a fantastic way to connect and understand the world around you. For example, in 2018, the Subiaco SOEL babies room were investigating reflective surfaces. This investigation lead them to explore the work of Vincent Van Gogh. His swirled twinkling skies linked with their exploration of reflective materials. The children immersed themselves in this through paint, projection and alfoil experimentation.

Where might your at-home gallery explorations lead you?

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