21 Museum Events for the Kids this Summer

The National Gallery
The National Gallery

I’ve been meaning to get this out for days, and not wanting to lose sleep over it, or forget to water the hamster again (for all small Siberian pet enquiries leave a message below, I’m now a fully fledged expert), I’ve done my best considering the circumstances, and desperate need to make the bed at least once this holiday. Please check the home page daily events diary , and my twitter as I keep it updated with all the latest chat from the museums, galleries and warm and kind craft-makers who keep all tidying up all the glitter from the workshops they run.

I’d love you to leave a comment below if you find out more wonderful events to share, and if you have time read this before you go, you will get extra brownie points for being a ‘smart art’ mum/dad. xo

1. Design Museum

Become a Design Guru, and book on one of the Summer workshops either at Shad Thames, or John Lewis Oxford Street. Choose from Be Opinionated : A free young peoples workshop (14-19 yrs), Sat 19 July (12-2pm). Create and Make: SHAPES AND SPACES :: Sunday 27 July, 1-4pm in to create your own architectural wonder and be inspired by the shapes and spaces in the Louis Kahn exhibition. Create and Make Family Workshops at John Lewis, Oxford Street on Tuesdays throught August, 10am -1pm :: With three fantastic workshops on offer you can pop along and try your design skills in a range of disciplines. Sign up in store from 9.30am on day of workshops Nb: One workshop per family. For further information contact learning@designmuseum.org

2. The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Free hands-on workshops, talks and tours for families where we bring the paintings to life! Families all ages, Spinning Blue a Drop-in Workshop Sunday 3/ 4th/ 5th  August, 11am–1pm (repeated 2–4pm) in Room 34 & Family Walk and Talk: Through the Rainbow – Green, Blue and Purple on Sunday 3 August, 12.30–1.30pm in the Pigott Education Centre Foyer & Scratch the Surface Drop-in Workshop Sunday 10/11th/12th  August, 11am–1pm (repeated 2–4pm) Room 9. In the Loop Drop in Workshop Sunday 17/18th/19th  August, 11am–1pm (repeated 2–4pm) Room 34 or Family Walk and Talk: Take One Picture Sunday 17 August, 11–11.30am at the Getty Entrance Information Desk.

3. Ottie and the Bea bookshop, Blackheath

This charming bookshop (South of the River) has the most brilliant line up of hands on craft events running for kids and families this Summer. Choose from Sunday sewing sessions with Miss Libby Rose (10-11am) age 5+ cost £12 or (11.20-1.30pm) age 8+ cost £25, make s sunshine cushion of wrap skirt or jersey top, create decorate and be proud of your creation. Invent the house of your dreams with Smiona Ciraolo. She will show you how to decorate and create a 2D house, using thick cardboard for 7+ (£18). Check the website for lots more fantastic events happening there in Blackheath.

4. The Parasol Unit, Islington

Storytelling Family Workshop: Forensic Fables : Sunday 13 July, 2.30 – 4pm £5 per Family : There is another family workshop with storyteller Nick Hunt on 27 July at the same time, they run weekend activities and always have an interesting exhibition on show.

5. Cutty Sark

Set sail for a summer of family events all about ships, sailing and the sea! Learn sailor skills with the ship’s cook and captain, practice sending coded messages with flags, and don’t miss the special programme of events for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival. During 2/3rd Aug they will be hosting their August Family Fun Weekend: Strange Ships and Fantastic Adventures, amongst a whole treasure chest full of daily activities, tours, and other fun moments for those with sturdy sea legs.

Tate Modern
Tate Modern

6. Tate Modern

We love the Tate, their Tate Kids website and the Southbank. There are so many reasons to visit during the year, and this Summer there are a few dates for your diary. During the holidays you can visit the Open Studio ‘The object is an actor’ which is the Matisse-inspired drawing studio and choose the actors to feature in your still-life drawings. (between 11-4pm : Thurs-Sun) Note: Every weekend during term-time.

Matisse Families is a free, fun family event aimed at 7 to 12 year olds and their siblings. on Saturday 9th August.  Drop-in to an afternoon of activities related to the work of Henri Matisse and the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs. Enjoy improvised music performances inspired by Matisse’s work, have a go at larger-than-still-life drawing in the Turbine Hall, experience the immersive Matisse Families Gallery installation and watch artist films inspired by colour. Also take a look at the Family Gallery showing ” This morning I woke up from the most amazing dream…” : Emiliano Zelada with a video by Francesca Banchelli at the McAulay Gallery : Open daily from 24 July – 7 September 2014.

7. Tate Britain, Millbank

The Summer events are related to the exhibition of British Folk Art. You can borrow a Sonic Trails set from the Clore Studio (age 7+), or download your own device with a decent paif of headphones. Or, encounter a musical ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, made using traditional folk instruments and field recordings from around the museum. During the holidays from Thursday – Sunday you can also enjoy the Open Studio activity ‘Work Hands’. The kids can take part in a colourful activity inspired by patchwork and ceilidh calling using the walls, floors and windows of space. The Wandering Story activity invites you to use phrases and patterns to create your own folktale, and turn it into a book.

8. Royal Academy, Piccadilly

Fantastic (shusssshh this is one of all time favourite places and spaces!) family events from the end of July to August, you need to book and pay £15 per adult and £3 per child.

9. The British Museum, Bloomsbury

Workshops every Saturday and Sunday during August which are Free / Digital workshop / Samsung Centre. They tend to start at 11am or 11.30 and some at 2pm (check the schedule above). Choose from ‘passport to the after life’ ‘shadow puppet workshops’ ‘Create a comic’ ‘ice age animation’ and ‘make a hotchpotch horse’ amongst others.


10. Zabludowicz Gallery, Chalk Farm

Every Saturday drop in and explore the exhibition through fun activities with artist Effie Coe. Suitable for children aged 3 and above accompanied by an adult. (Free)

11. The Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

Most workshops are £5 or Free. Check online before booking. Thursday 7 and 21 August: Come and join us for the Saatchi Gallery’s Free Summer Workshops. We’ll be painting and printing, cutting and sticking, sculpting and making and wonder creating! (All ages) Drop in 10.30am – 3pm (Workshop room closed for 30 mins at 1pm for lunch) FREE

Thursday 14 August: Manga expert Samuele Falzone will be presenting a master class in creating Manga drawings. Participants will learn about the history of Japanese Comics before developing their own characters and storyboards.(For ages 7+) 11am – 1pm £5 per participant

Thursday 28 August: Join our creative and crafty workshops which will explore African designs through printing and sewing. No booking required, just drop into the education room to get involved.(All ages)Drop in 10.30am – 3pm FREE


12. Imperial War Museum

It’s re-opened, and the talk of the town. Read all about it here.

13. Somerset House

We love their Family Drop-in Workshops: Saloon Bar Selfies Saturday 9 August 11.00-16.00
Create your own ‘Wanted’ poster for the biggest outlaws, cattle rustlers, card sharks or bandits amongst your friends and family, or have your mugshot at the Sherriff’s gaol. (Recommended for families with children aged 5-12). Saturday 6 September 12.00-15.00 : The tattooed giants have circled the globe, chronicling their travels as they go. Help us to create a tattoo map mural with inspiration from Time: Tattoo Art Today.

14. John Soane Museum

The wonderful Mr Soane established the house as a museum by Act of Parliament (1833) requiring that his romantic and poetic interiors be kept as they were at the time of his death. Isn’t that enough to persuade you to make a visit? Read more here.


15. Charles Dickens Museum

A visit to the Museum includes a free family trail for each child. Check the events schedule before you go. Suitable for children between 4 and 12 years, the trail takes children on a journey of discovery through No. 48 Doughty Street, where Dickens once lived with his wife and young family. Exploration of the basement reveals the wonderful Victorian kitchen, full of period and replica items you can interact with. Try your hand at grinding coffee and look out for our resident hedgehog Bill Spikes! There are costumes for dressing up in both the kitchen and the attic to give a flavour of what life was like upstairs and down. There is even a beautiful Victorian toy theatre in their timeline room where you can put on your own play.

16. The Foundling Museum

On 15 August from 10.30 you can work with artist Daniel Wallis to create a giant cartoon strip inspired by the stories of artists and families visiting the Museum. If you make the trip you just have to make a day of it, and visit Corams Fields and the rest of the area, read more in my mini guide here. : ps. Drop in. Free for children and up to two accompanying adults.

17. The Museum of London

Between 12-26 August the museum if hosting a Summer Holiday activity week. You can join in for crafting, object handling, storytelling, drama and digital workshops. Check online for the full listing, here is a taster;  The man who painted London’s streets (5+) : Tuesday 12 & Thursday 14 August, 1-1.30pm, 2.30-3pm & 3.30-4pm or London play street, Tuesday 12 – Friday 15 August, 11am – 1pm & 2-4pm : Come and create together with our artist and puppeteer a model of a London Play Street : Make some music : Wed 13 August, 11-11.45am, 12-12.45pm & 2-2.45pm : Create music about famous bridges of London in this session for Under 5s and their carers.

Pangaea Exhibition : Saatchi Gallery
Pangaea Exhibition : Saatchi Gallery

18. The Horniman Museum & Gardens (Dulwich)

There is always something going on at this Family Friendly Museum 2013, especially on Wednesdays when you can join them for a day of activities inspired by the Edwardian tea party. This event is part of the Big Wednesday series which takes place throughout August. Join Miss. Horniman as she tells wonderful tea tales, including the mythical origin of tea, the story of how tea arrived in this country and of course the finest tea in the world – Horniman’s tea! In the Gardens 11-11.45am, 12.15-1pm, 1.45-2.30. Learn to tea dance with Ida Barr – a traditional Edwardian lady with a twist! On our Edwardian Bandstand 2.15-3pm and 3.15-4pm. Drop-in, everyone welcome.

19. The Whitechapel Gallery (Whitechapel)

Facilities for families : Children’s activity packs containing stickers and crayons are available from the information desk. Suggested £1 donation per pack (not suitable for children under 4 due to small parts). Events for children and families take place in the Gallery on various dates throughout the year; please check online to view the latest programme.


20. The V&A Museum of Childhood

Probably the best ever museum to take the under 5’s, and always on our list if the heavens open and you need a decent Benugo coffee. They are running activities all through the holidays from Monday 21 July – Sunday 31 August.

Daily you can drop in to the Museum for free fun activities : 10.30-11.00 : Animal Magic : Sensory storytelling for little ones, inspired by well-loved animal tales. Recommended for ages 2-5 years. 11.15-11.45 : Explore : Have-a-go sessions that let children get up close to childhood objects, toys or games. For children of all ages.12.00-12.30 : Telling Tales : Interactive storytelling featuring popular children’s tales. Children can help tell the story using sounds, props and actions. For children of all ages. : 14.00-16.00 (last admission 15.45) : Art Smarts : Kids can get creative with our drop-in arts and crafts sessions, and make an amazing piece of art inspired by the Museum to take home. For children of all ages.

21. House of Illustration (Kings Cross)

This incredibly brilliant cultural institution is fresh out of the building packet. It opened in June, and is the UK’s first flagship centre celebrating illustration in all it’s forms. They hold weekend family workshops, exhibitions, drop in fun, and if you like pencils, then get sharpening and head over.