Take your kids to a museum with our family friendly days out

By Ed Sexton | 10 July 2009
a child holding a picture

Picture © Kids in Museums

Culture24 has been inspired by the organisation Kids in Museums to bring you some ideas for great family friendly days out. We have used the shortlist from last year's Guardian Family Friendly Award of five UK museums that offer loads of opportunities for kids to interact with collections and have superb family friendly facilities to ensure that younger visitors have a memorable day out.

In 2008, five museums were shortlisted by Kids in Museums: Dulwich Picture Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Shetland Museum, Weston Park Museum and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Kids in Museums will be looking for your nominations for this year’s Guardian Family Friendly Award - keep an eye on Culture24 for updates on this year's competition.

Weston Park Museum

Last year's winners of the Guardian Award, Weston Park has a series of four permanent family friendly trails offering different activities for different age groups that will ensure that you get the most out of your day.

Families with younger children can use the Find Snowy and her Friends and Explore with Snowy and her Friends trails to lead them on a journey around the museum.

There are three trails for families with older children that will help young visitors to find out more about the amazing objects in the collection and discover the weird, wonderful and sometimes disgusting stories behind them.

children in dressing up clothes

(Above) The Big Bug Show at Museums Sheffield Weston Park. Picture © Carl Rose

Nature's Wonders at Weston Park
Thursday and Friday August 6 & 7, 11am – 3pm, suitable for the whole family. Join Museums Sheffield and the RSPB for two days of birds, bugs and brilliant nature activities. Free, no need to book.

Sheffield Wildlife Watch Club
Saturday August 22, 11am–12.30pm, suitable for 5 – 13 years (under 8s must be accompanied by an adult).
Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Museums Sheffield have joined forces and are looking for nature detectives aged 5-13 to join a new group, to explore the outdoors and have fun getting closer to wildlife.

This summer, Museums Sheffield: Weston Park plays home to slimy snails, beautiful butterflies and scary spiders as The Big Bug Show gets up close and personal with the amazing world of all things creepy and crawly. Teeming with tiny life, this brand new, free exhibition allows visitors to investigate the small world of insects on the big screen, meet live examples face to face, and even create a spectacular super powered bug in a new interactive.

For more information go to the Museums Sheffield website.

man and child in craft workshop

Family activities at Museums Sheffield Weston Park. Picture © Carl Rose

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

The Wolverhampton Art Gallery aims to take the stress out of a day out and has made the gallery a place where visitors young and old can explore and have fun together.

A whole range of kids resources are on offer including: highchairs, Hippychick Hip seats, children's furniture, a buggy park not to mention useful colouring sheets and a family activity trail as well as a children's feedback area are provided to make the visit even more enjoyable.

There are also family friendly exhibitions that families can explore together, and plenty of activity sessions so that you can all create something to remember your day out.

families doing art activities in a garden

(Above) Outdoor activities at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Picture courtesy Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Victorian Toy Extravaganza
Aug 3, 11.00am - 1.00pm, free, drop-in.
Get transported back in time to the Victorian era and create your own Victorian style toys to take home and play with.

Work on Paper - Comic Diaries Activity
Aug 15, 11am - 1pm, free, drop-in.
Create your own comic diary inspired by the works of James Nash with Art Interpreter Dean Melbourne. Suitable for ages 12+ yrs.

Funky Fan Workshop
Aug 24, 11.00am - 1.00pm, £2 per child, drop in.
Be inspired by the objects in the Victorian Galleries to create your own funky fan for those hot summer evenings!

For more information go to the Wolverhampton Art Gallery website.

a child drawing with a giant pencil

A very large pencil at Manchester Art Gallery. © Manchester Art Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Dulwich Picture Gallery collection is one of the oldest in Great Britain. The paintings are housed in the first purpose-built art gallery in England, designed by Sir John Soane in 1811.

Dulwich Picture Gallery is using its fantastic collections to inspire a five-week run of workshops this summer. The fabulous creative workshops will take place in the beautiful gallery gardens so visitors can bring a picnic along and watch the artwork develop.

Monthly workshops create opportunities to make silly sock puppets, African masks and everything in between.

a woman and children doing a craft activity

(Above) Getting to grips with an activity trail in Manchester. Picture © Manchester Art Gallery

August 18 - 21, 10.30am – 1pm for 5-7 years, £40.
What would it be like to fly over your favourite view? In Lands-Cape you can make your very own cape by painting, drawing and printing a design based on your favourite view. With Erica Parrett, Sackler Centre Artist.

Creepy Creatures
August 18 - 21, 2- 4.30pm 8-10 years, £40.
From sock monkeys to glove gibbons, use a range of materials create exciting textiles creatures from your imagination and learn stitching and collage techniques. With Erica Parrett, Sackler Centre Resident Artist

Life in a Box
August 25 - 28, 10.30am - 1pm 11 - 13 years, 2 - 4.30pm 14 - 16 years, £40.
What would it be like to record all your memories in a single place? Through printmaking, photography and collage learn creative ways to record your memories in your own Memory Box. With Erica Parrett, Sackler Centre Resident Artist.

For more information go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery website

two children in a gallery

Two girls at children’s art and craft workshop © Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery

The Manchester Art Gallery has plenty on offer including the Clore interactive gallery, free family friendly resources and facilities and a popular cafe. In the Clore Gallery you can immerse yourself in a whole host of hands on activities from dressing up to chariot races.

When you strike off to explore the Gallery, make sure you take advantage of the children's audio guides and explorer tool belts with binoculars, magnifying glasses, spot cards and much more to help you get the most out of the collection.

There is also a drawing trail around the Gallery, a handling trail in the Gallery of Craft and Design and child friendly food and gifts in the cafe and gift shop.

a man and boy in a pottery workshop

(Above) Going potty. Picture courtesy Shetland Museum and Archives

My ears
Wednesday July 29 (and every Weds in August), 1 – 3pm.
Make weird and wonderful listening devices. Take part in the Gallery's sound snatcher challenge. Explore a giant sound playground where you can draw, sculpt and play with sensory materials. Free. Sign-up from 12.30pm. Suitable for families with 3 - 11 year olds. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Meet the artist workshop
Saturday August 8, 1 - 2pm.
Ever wondered what an artist does? Or where they get their inspiration? Bring your family to meet someone who can explain what it’s like to be an artist. Suitable for children aged 7+. Free. Limited places, so please arrive early.

My space
Thursdays, August 6, 13, 20 and 27 , 1- 3pm.
Create a portable mini-den together, then let your imagination loose in the Gallery’s interactive sound playground. Free. Sign-up from 12.30pm. Suitable for families with 3 - 11 year olds. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

For more information go to the Manchester Gallery website.

a woman and children looking at a display

(Above) Group of children in Clore Interactive gallery. Picture © Manchester Art Gallery

The Shetland Museum

Opened in 2007, the Shetland Museum and Archives tells Shetland’s story from its geological beginnings to the present day. The Museum offers loads of hands on opportunities that help bring the history of the Shetland Islands to life, from taking a fishing trip in the Museum play boat ‘Da Peerie Adventurer’, to having a go at carding wool, designing a Pictish stone or listening to Shetland’s little people in the ‘Trowie Knowe’.

There are a number of different ways to help keep young visitors entertained including story sacks, dressing up clothes, trails, scavenger hunts and museum tours. There are also live craft demonstrations on Sunday afternoons throughout July and August and a variety of children’s and family events.

a woman and a boy watching a performance

The Big Bug Show at Museums Sheffield Weston Park. Picture © Carl Rose

Veer North Colour Dynamics Painting Workshop
July 24, 10.00-16.00.
Join Kristi Cumming to create your own dynamic abstract painting. Age: 14 years +, £5; booking essential.

Butterfly Feeder
August 1, 10.30 - 11.00, 12.00 - 12.30 & 14.00 - 14.30.
Come along with an adult and make your own butterfly feeder for your garden. Age: 3-7 years, must be accompanied by an adult. Free but booking essential.

Papier Mache Treasure two day workshop
August 8 and 9 - 13.00 - 16.00.
Join Amy Fisher to make your own silver bowl inspired by the St Ninian’s Isle Treasure. Age 8-12 years, £5, booking essential.

For more information go to the Shetland Museum website.

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