Museum of Contemporary Art, image © Anna Kucera
Best museums in Australia
Amy Henderson discovers some of Australia’s best museums and galleries where kids can interact, get stuck in, linger, play and learn.
Whether it’s hunting for dinosaur eggs, crawling through a replica vessel of the Endeavour, building rockets or simply getting art and about, it’ll all be in the name of learning, science and fun.
If Dalí, Picasso and Monet met up in Melbourne for a good schmooze about art, they’d forget about waterlilies and dripping clocks and go giddy for ArtVo. ArtVo is Australia’s first interactive art spectacular, where visitors get to become the art. Featuring more than 100 larger-than-life, hand-painted 3D art installations, the exhibition is spread across 11 interactive zones, each with its own bright, creative theme. Come face-to-face with wild animals, paint your own Italian masterpiece and adventure through Africa. Perhaps you’d rather traverse Egypt’s underworld on mythical beasts or surf the ultimate pipeline?
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Those scribbles your little one is churning out could see them become the next Andy Warhol or Salvador Dalí, so it’s never too early to introduce your kids to the art world. At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, kids and adults are encouraged to engage with artistic ideas and thinking on an Art Safari while babies are free to be as giggly and wriggly as they like during their regular Art Baby sessions. Sunday Family Fun Day sessions will see your tots let loose in the interactive artwork 'Room of Lucky Charms' or get messy in the Creative Studio while exploring the art moments of 'Snazzy Shapes', 'Playful Patterns', 'Spectacular Sounds' and 'Terrific Textures'.
A family trip to Canberra isn’t complete without a visit to Questacon. With more than 200 exhibits, the centre prides itself on making science accessible and interactive and messier than your kids could have ever hoped for. You’ll be met by RoboQ, a humanoid impersonating old film gems such as a rasping Darth Vader, and suave Humphrey Bogart. Once inside, it’s all about laughing until you snort, and learning up a storm (clouds included). Create your own video game, measure your heartbeat after free falling, blast a rocket into outer space and watch lightning strike way more than twice at this unforgettably fun and interactive museum.
National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra
Does your 'little dino' have the energy of the dinosaurs they love so much? Well it’s definitely time to journey back to the land before time at The National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra. Touch real-life Brontosaurus bones and meteorites, create your own dino mask or take a stroll through Dinosaur Garden alongside the enormous, lifelike animatronic dinosaurs. Kids can embark on a Dinosaur Hunt combining education and adventure where they’ll receive a certificate of completion at the end, as well as the opportunity to win a real-life fossil. Between colouring in those dinosaur masks and getting to ogle at 300,000-year-old dinosaur skeletons, your whippersnappers will have all their Jurassic needs met.
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
If eye patches, pirates and rollicking yo-hohos float your kids' boats, the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is the perfect place to let them unleash that swashbuckling spirit. Take a tour through the HMAS Vampire — Australia’s largest museum gun ship — or let them don a pirate hat to crawl through and explore a replica of Captain James Cook’s HMB Endeavour. Kids can experience the mesmerising underwater world of shipwrecks and sea creatures as they feel their way through the mysterious 'Cabinet of Curiosities', or get up close and personal with the powerful 'Great White Shark' in a thrilling 3D movie experience. Sunday Fun Days are a great way to involve the whole family with facepainting, character-led tours and lively performances to make everyone feel at home under the sea.
National Dinosaur Museum
This article appeared in volume 53 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.