Dinosaur bones and modern art: visiting museums with kids

Part of the Kinderling Conversation for parents. Weekdays 12pm-1pm.

Thu 13 October 2016

13 mins

While dinosaur skeletons will always be a drawcard, museums and art galleries these days provide a range of different tactile experiences and activities for kids. This week’s Screen Free Challenge theme is CULTURE and we caught up with Linda Sproul, the manager of Education and Community Programs at Museum Victoria. As a child, she was fascinated by the Portugese man o’war - aka the blue bottle. Seeing such creatures in museums prompt kids to think about the world around them and ask questions like “Where does it live? What does it do? Why is it like that?” 

You can read books, watch movies and research animals on devices, but Linda says that actually being in the same space as life-sized museum artefacts, like dinosaur and whale skeletons, helps kids get a sense of scale and time.

While you might think you’re just going to a museum to look at old stuff, it’s also about the time you share with your loved ones. “Conversations that people have with one another actually forms memory, understanding, and creates empathy, and creates a broader sense of the world and what your place is in it, and how you might want to be in the world,” says Linda. 

And of course museum staff are experts at answering all those tricky why, how and what questions that might spring to those young minds. Maybe your little humans will get inspired to become archaeologists, scientists, artists, historians or even taxidermists! 

Around Australia, each state has it’s own museum covering the dinosaur and natural history bases, plus exhibitions of local Indigenous culture, local history, and often science exhibits. Then there are the state galleries of classical and modern art, too. We’ve put together a list below, and we’d love to find out your favourites. Which museums and galleries do you like to visit?

This week, we have two challenge ideas for you. You could head to a museum or gallery and take a pic of yourself with a dinosaur or a work of art and upload it with the hashtag #screenfreechallenge #kinderling 

The second challenge idea comes from Linda. Choose an object that is precious to you and share a story about it with someone in your family or a close friend.

ACT

Questacon is the National Science and Technology Centre in the nation’s capital. Famous as the go-to school excursion location, it’s also lots of fun to visit as a family. 

National Gallery of Australia has constant rotating special exhibitions, with art and artefacts from all over the world.

NSW

Australian Museum in Sydney has a range Indigenous Australian exhibitions, dinosaurs, Australian native animal collections and more. 

Art Gallery of NSW has a lovely collection of art from across the ages, while the Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on more recent creations (and they have a great kids program too!) 

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is a wonderful suburban arts hub with loads of events happening throughout the year. 

NT

Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory is home to a 5-metre long taxidermy crocodile named Sweetheart, natural history specimens, Indigenous art collections and more. 

QLD

Brisbane Kids have some stellar cultural rainy day ideas for families in Bris-Vegas.

For an art fix, take the kids to Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art.

Queensland Museum showcases indigenous cultural collections, the Sciencentre, dinosaur skeletons, taxidermy animals and more. 

SA

At the South Australian Museum learn about Australian Aboriginal Cultures, Ancient Egypt, sea animal like whales and dolphins plus so much more. 

The Art Gallery of South Australia has all sorts of arts and culture for the kids to soak up. 

TAS

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is a combined museum, art gallery and state herbarium.

For older kids, head to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), it’s free entry for Tasmanians only! Plus the view from the café is rather lovely. 

VIC

There’s no end to culture in the country’s cultural capital. At Museum Victoria see the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre, dinosaurs, Scienceworks, grab some autism-friendly museum maps and more. 

National Gallery Victoria display one-off exhibitions from across the globe, but don’t forget home grown talent by venturing on a Melbourne city street art tour

WA

Western Australian Museum have many rare fossils, the iconic racing yacht Australia II, plus the Museum also manages 200 shipwreck sites off the WA coast and eight Aboriginal land reserves.

For the creative kids, take them to The Art Gallery of Western Australia.

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