My daughter and I went on a date last weekend. We got dressed up and jumped on the bus headed for downtown. After several weeks of juggling my attention back and forth between family members, work and other obligations, my preschooler and I needed some time for just the two of us. Our destination was The Vancouver Art Gallery’s weekend program for kids, The Making Place.
At first glance, the Art Gallery might not seem like the ideal place to go with a four year old in tow. I was a little worried about my daughter being loud, wanting to run or touch the art, or simply being bored and wanting to leave after only five minutes. In anticipation of this, I talked with her about how people behave in an art gallery while we walked to the bus stop. I was pretty sure she could handle it though, especially since she had me all to herself that day.
The Making Place
When we arrived we went straight upstairs to The Making Place, a room full of kids, parents and craft supplies up on the fourth floor. A friendly art gallery staff member greeted us when we arrived and explained the three different art projects that were going on in the room. Each project had a row of tables dedicated to it, with kids and adults busily working together on their pieces. Each project was inspired by one of the works currently on display in the gallery: a forest of Emily Carr style trees, a spot on the wall to make collaborative paintings inspired by Kerry James Marshall, a space to make portable containers filled with supplies for an animal’s nest, like Liz Magor’s installation piece Beaver Man.
We took a box and headed over to the tables where we could build a wagon to transport some hedgehog nest materials. The space was quite full, so we found the only available chairs and got to work. At four, my daughter was one of the youngest kids there that wasn’t accompanying an older sibling. However, she was able to participate in the craft and didn’t seem too young for the program, which is recommended for children between 5-12 years old.
Visiting the Exhibitions
After Beatrice finished making her pull-along box of hedgehog nest materials, we headed out into the gallery to view the exhibitions. We counted some of the loonies on Douglas Coupland’s 1,000 dollar blanket and looked at Emily Carr’s pottery. In the Kerry James Marshall exhibit, Beatrice exclaimed, “Look mama, sparkly wings!” We toured through the top two floors, which were the only ones open the day we went, and then came the inevitable whisper, “Mama, I’m bored. I want to go now.” If I had been there by myself I might have stayed longer, looking at paintings in more detail and absorbing the quiet, reflective atmosphere. But overall, Bea and I were there for almost two hours, which is a pretty decent run for a preschooler.
The Vancouver Art Gallery has a program for children running every weekend. Art Tracks and Art Agents are guided tours for adults and children, which happen every Saturday afternoon. The Making Place is on the second and fourth Sundays of every month. The next Family FUSE weekend is coming up on the 27th and 28th of November, with films, workshops and performances happening all weekend.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a fun destination for an outing with school aged kids, especially for art-minded parents who don’t mind moving through the exhibitions at their child’s pace. For more details check out the Vancouver Art Gallery’s website.
Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street, Vancouver BC | 604-662-4719 | Website
Michelle Carchrae is a freelance writer and mama to two little girls. Michelle writes about attachment parenting, parenting resources and life with kids at her blog The Parent Vortex.