Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is one of our favorite go-to destinations. On a weekend, we may just pop in to have a look around at the exhibitions, and even as a toddler, our Mini-artsplorer always found plenty to pique her interest, even if she’s years away from understanding the more mature social and political themes of much of the work.
The MCA also offers a regular program of excellent activities for children and families, most at low cost or for just a donation (calendar of kids and family events here). When she was around 2, I first took Mini to MCA’s ARTplay.
ARTplay is an energetic drop-in playgroup for ages 0 – 5, held on Wednesday mornings during school term at the Creative Studios on Level 3. The suggested donation is $5.
In the space, kids find a number of areas with materials that welcome them to invent, build, and explore. Colourful giant blocks made out of cardboard boxes always seem to be in a perpetual state of piling up and toppling over. Felt shapes may be turned into any sort of masterpiece on the wall. Flowy pieces of fabric become everything from dress up objects to dancing props.
Off to the side, is a special room with a theme that changes periodically. We’ve laughed along with video installations, brushed a giant dog sculpture, and dressed like koalas.
Story time and singing sessions are also offered during the morning.
We have always been greeted with enthusiasm, and welcomed so warmly by the kind staff. They get into playing with the kids, without ever “telling” them what to do with the open ended materials, and I have always found them to be completely respectful of the temperament and abilities of under 5 age group.
I’ve found that the number of attendees seem to ebb and flow at ARTplay, and some weeks it can be quite crowded, while others it’s much smaller. If you’re able, try to arrive by the 10a.m. opening, if your child may find a crowd overwhelming, especially on his or her first encounter with the new space.
If you have Wednesday mornings free with a young child, ARTplay at the MCA is a special place for kids to play, engage with interesting aesthetics, and use their imaginations.
If you go:
Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George Street, The Rocks
ARTplay runs Wednesdays during school term (check website for exact dates and updated information)
10a.m. – 12p.m.
Recommended for children ages 0 – 5 and their carers
$5 suggested donation