Hello! I am Maggy, mum of two – Red Ted (5yrs) and Pip Squeak (3yrs) ! Usually you will find me getting crafty over on Red Ted Art, cooking with the kids on Life At The Zoo (though we have been seriously slack in that department) or telling you all about our latest Theatre, Books and Movies! In the UK compulsory schooling starts after the 4th Birthday (well technically the 5th, but the kids start in the Sept after their 4th Birthday). So we have been experiencing School Life for the first time these past few months. The thing I miss most the opportunity to do bigger “field trips” – i.e. head into London and go to a gallery. So when the holidays come round, off we go.
Today, we went to the National Gallery in London. It was fabulous. The rooms are organised in chronological order – starting around 1200 and ending 1900.
Red Ted was so taken by all the paintings we saw. The paintings are large, full of detail and colour. Great for young children. By nature of the “time” in which these were painted, a large proportion of the paintings we saw had religious connotations, so we had an interesting discussion about Jesus and the crucifixion, to say the least! I tried to be open and frank without scaring him too much. I think he got the “positive” message of Easter at the end. We wandered on and then were surprised to stumble across a number of wonderful paintings featured in our “Katie” books. I loved that the children recognised the paintings. It was a wonderful “plus”.
What did we like least?
We thought the atmosphere of the gallery was not particularly child friendly or “encouraging” children. No one smiled at us nor seemed pleased to see us. The gallery wardens, looked mean and unkind. Harumpf to them.
Medium London price range and discouraged from bringing your own food (though we did). If the three of us had had a drink and sandwiches each, we would easily have paid £15-£20. (Yes, London is expensive). We did have our sandwiches, so there.
Website. It is open all year round and has special children sessions on Sundays and SOME but not many (and not today) during school holidays. There are 2 coffee shops and a restaurant. Gift shops. Loos and baby changing facilities (but these all seem to be in the basement, so a long way to go if you suddenly need to go). No parking as in the centre of town, but close to Charring Cross and Leicester Square tubes. Free entrance. No age restrictions, but as mentioned above, we didn’t feel particularly welcomed with young children – though we had a great time regardless.
Beautiful building, with traditional main and modern annex – clean airy. It was busy, but not crowded and plenty of places to sit, rest and contemplate.
Overall, well worth a visit – it really has amazing paintings and the kids were enthralled, but be prepared for a slightly frosty reception. If you want child friendly, head to Tate Britain or Tate Modern.