While there are several Singapore museum that are great for kids, I had my doubts that the newly opened, majestic National Gallery would be one. Still, not to wrongly judge a museum by its marbled interior, I recently took my 5 and 4-year-old.
We arrived as it opens on Saturday morning (10am) and with no queue, quickly got our tickets. We headed upstairs to the Keppel Centre for arts education and, amongst the freshly buffed marble and shiny wood finishes, were greeted by clanking sounds and squeals of children. This was a promising sign.
Before the entrance to the Keppel Centre for Art Education, there is a long, white wall with a 3-D maze. Using colorful plastic circles, kids can find openings in the plastic cover to drop the circles and watch them snake through the maze and drop through slots at the bottom so they retrieve the circles and do it again. (If you’ve ever watched “The Price is Right” game show, it’s kind of like Plenko.)
From there we entered through double doors to a long corridor with several workshop rooms on either side. The first room is the art playscape. The entire room is colorfully painted with flowers, branches, leaves and a big “treehouse” in the centre. It’s playing inside a painting. My kids loved climbing up and down the treehouse and exploring the maze-like features of the room.
We want to live there!
We moved onto the “project gallery” which has a couple of options for kids. Designed to inspire creative thinking about where and how we live, kids are encouraged to think about their future dwellings – whether on wheels, in the sky or wherever their imagination takes them. For a small donation ($4), they can create a “nomadic bus” or “boat in the sky” or can opt for free paper, pencils and crayons to draw.
There were two other rooms with filled with paintings and sculptures — all hung low for kids to get a good look — and several tables with strips of recycled paper, string, tape, pencils and postcards for kids to explore and create.
We spent about 90 minutes at the museum and while they didn’t necessarily gain an appreciation for Picasso, they were exposed to art and got to express their own ideas in a hands-on environment.
By Kathleen Siddell, February 2016
Photos: National Gallery website