On paper, Tate Modern is not among the most family-friendly museums in London. But there is hope; if you make an effort to trigger the kids’ interest while remaining totally flexible steering through the galleries, you might just actually have a brilliant time!
We don’t have any real modern art experts in our family, and that might actually count to our advantage when it comes to visiting an art museum like Tate Modern. If it takes the kids 30 seconds to view a room, we are usually totally fine with that and won’t insist on spending more time than they want to. And if they want to spend thirty minutes in the gift shop rather than studying paintings, that’s fine as well! Our key to a successful art museum visit is to stay flexible and go with the flow, while at the same time sparking interest by interpreting and describing the art with them.
5 Family-Friendly Things at Tate Modern
- The Building – it’s a massive and fascinating space to explore
- Turbine Hall Art Installations – this is where the BIGGEST art is displayed
- The Paintings – let’s not forget 😀 We particularly like Roy Lichtenstein’s art
- The Views – go to the sixth floor and enjoy the panorama of the City of London
- Audio Guides – Not an art expert? Don’t worry. Get your kids excited by going to Tate Modern website to listen to audio descriptions ahead of your visit.
Keeping an eye on your kids
In Tate Modern, you’ll find artwork worth millions of pounds or even priceless, and we all know the kind of havoc a toddler can cause in seconds. Which is part of the reason why many parents are scared of taking young children to museums in the first place. Let’s face it; most art museums are not designed with young children in mind so you’ll have to expect a bit of extra effort looking after your offsprings if you bring them to an art gallery.
The Tate Modern Building
Our favourite Tate Modern feature is that it’s housed in such a massive building. Compared to some of the old Victorian museums of London with its labyrinths of narrow corridors and rooms, you’ll find big open spaces where kids can actually run around without risking to destroy any artworks. Especially the enormous turbine hall is just wonderful for kids to let out some steam. This is also where you’ll find the biggest and most impressive art installations, like Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus.
Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus
“I didn’t want a completely passive viewer. Art means too much to me. To be able to articulate something visually is really an important thing. I wanted to make work where the viewer wouldn’t walk away; he would giggle nervously, get pulled into history, into fiction, into something totally demeaning and possibly very beautiful.” (Kara Walker)
One of the first things we went to see on our last visit to Tate Modern was Kara Walker’s incredible new sculpture. Questioning how we remember history in our public monuments, the towering fountain presents a new narrative and a new perspective on the African Diaspora. It was inspired by the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace, which celebrates Queen Victoria and her expansion of the British empire. But Walker’s sculpture inverts the celebratory purpose of the memorial, asking uncomfortable questions by exploring the history of violence against colonized people and the diasporas that followed, especially in Africa.
Weaving together facts, fantasy and fiction, Walker develops an allegory for the “Black Atlantic,” a term coined by the historian Paul Gilroy to acknowledge how the legacy of transatlantic slave trade Snaped Black identity and culture across the Americas and Europe. Each figure in Walker’s fountain is symbolic of a different theme relating to the Black Atlantic. For example, the stranded sailor in slide five symbolizes the threat of violence and danger in the Atlantic and might also hint to slave ships. This figure also references Winslow in a small boat surrounded by sharks.
Homer’s 1899 painting “The Gulf Stream,” seen in the last slide, which similarly depicts a Black sailor stranded in a small boat surrounded by sharks.
Walker’s choice to create a public fountain is even more relevant in the wake of this summer’s protests and the shifting attitudes toward monuments that celebrate racist and colonialist figures. Walker’s sculpture turns this idea inside out while reclaiming and reinventing the perspective. And as we look to the future, I think Walker sets an important precedent for how the next generation of monuments could reflect history.
Roy Lichtenstein Pop-Art
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🙈 WHAAM! Taking toddlers to Art Galleries 🙈 . . Toddlers and art galleries are usually not a match made in heaven, but we actually had a good time on our recent excursion to @Tate Modern. . As opposed to Wonderlab and Science Museum where pretty much everything can be interacted with, in Tate everything is hands-off. Which means you need to keep a constant watchful eye on your offspring to make sure they don’t ram an art installation at full speed.⚡🙈 . The post-lockdown setup at Tate is really good, with fewer visitors and a clear one-way route through the galleries. This simplifies things and makes it easier to direct the kids through different exhibitions.➡️ 👉 . The building is a wonder in itself, with its large open spaces and raw concrete walls contrasted against fine art. We didn’t dwell too long in each gallery but moved quickly through each room concentrating on a few pieces.🧒🎨 . The enormous Kara Walker fountain made an impression. Given the British Empire’s role as key facilitator and benefactor of the triangle trade, it’s a real shame that London lacks a memorial to all the lives lost and destroyed because of the slave trade. Maybe the time has finally come to erect a slavery memorial? . . . . . . . . #tatemodern #kidsinmuseums #londonforkids #londoninsider #thisislondon #lovemuseums #kidfriendly #museumsoflondon #explorelondon #freelondon #londonfamily #ourlifeinlondon #roylichtenstein #karawalker
Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein
1963, on display at Tate Modern
This piece is an amazing diptych painting by the American artist Lichtenstein; and one of the most well-known works of pop art.
This painting combines a war image with a colourful, expressive narrative. Inspired by comic books, Lichtenstein made the piece more compelling by increasing the size and prominence of the exploding plane, in comparison to the attacking plane.
As Keith Roberts best described it – this pop-art piece works by combining “art nouveau elegance with nervous energy reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism”.
The view from Tate Modern
You’ll find amazing views from Tate Modern overlooking the river Thames and the City of London. The Kitchen and Bar on level six in the Natalie Bell building is probably London’s worst-kept “secret view”, and will almost always be crowded. But keep an eye out for windows as you walk through the art galleries, like when you cross the bridge over to the Blavatnik building where you can look straight down to the turbine hall. On top of the Blavatnik building, you’ll also find viewing platform as well as a restaurant with great views.
The Tate Modern gift shop
We love a good gift shop, and the Tate Modern version is no exception. You’ll find a really well-curated range of books on modern art and culture as well as exclusive products and gift ideas. What about a Wassily Kandinsky Cossacks face covering? We particularly like their selection of children’s books, great for Christmas and birthday gifts. And since entry is free, getting something from the museum shop is a nice way to give something back…