Best shows for... families with children

Commercial galleries are getting down with the kids and welcoming little ones during London Gallery Weekend


Check out The Art Newspaper's guide to London Gallery Weekend for recommendations on the best exhibitions to see during the three-day event, top trends and commentary

Galleries, including Waddington Custot (pictured), are throwing open their doors to mini visitors during London Gallery Weekend Photo: Rob Harris. Courtesy of Waddington Custot

White cubes are not normally a setting for sticky fingered toddlers or bawling babies, but some commercial spaces are throwing out the rule book for London Gallery Weekend (LGW). The inaugural citywide event (4-6 June) has partnered with London’s Royal Society of Sculptors to develop a “Children’s Guide to London Gallery Weekend” that will be available to parents and carers to download for free (coming soon). The guide includes three galleries, Victoria Miro, White Cube and Gagosian, and is designed to "stimulate playful questions and thoughts around each show".

“I'm really impressed by the galleries taking part in LGW for commissioning the children's trail,” says Caroline Worthington, the director of the Royal Society of Sculptors. “It's not often that commercial galleries consider children or families as part of their audience.” The partnership is the result of a (these days, rare) in-person, chance meeting of Worthington and Jo Stella-Sawicka, formerly the artistic director of Frieze art fairs and now the director of Goodman Gallery in London, as well as one of the co-organisers of LGW. The two have worked together previously on family activities for Frieze Sculpture in Regent's Park. “The new trail felt like a natural progression,” Worthington says.

But other galleries are jumping on board too, so forget the baby sitter and check out these kid-friendly shows around town.

Yayoi Kusama's On Hearing the Sunset Afterglow's Message of Love, My Heart Shed Tears (2021) © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro

Yayoi Kusama: I Want Your Tears to Flow with the Words I Wrote

Until 31 July, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW

Some would say (not us) that Yayoi Kusama's works vaguely resemble something you might have stuck on your fridge from a finger painting session. The bold colours, simple shapes and cutesy pumpkin and flower forms are sure to be a hit with children. Spread out over the Wharf Road galleries and the waterside garden, there is plenty of room for little ones to potter about. The gallery allows visitors to leave pushchairs in the reception area but also notes that children over the age of two must have a ticket. And hold on to your wallet—there is a Kusama gift shop that is bound to get kids excited.

This installation shot of Takis at White Cube Bermondsey shows the scale of some of the works © Takis Foundation. Photo: © White Cube (Ollie Hammick)


Until 27 June, White Cube Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ

The curious, other-worldly assemblages by the Greek artist Takis are bound to capture children's imaginations. Some monumental, some moving, and some making sounds—this is where art meets Meccano. Harnessing the power of magnets or energy from the wind, the works in the show are a great jumping off point for discussions around science and mechanics with young inquisitive minds.

Rachel Whiteread's Internal Objects (2021), on view at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, London © Rachel Whiteread. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. Courtesy of Gagosian

Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects

Until 6 June, Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, 20 Grosvenor Hill, W1K 3QD

Hand a kid a piece of blank paper and they may well produce a drawing of a house not too dissimilar to Rachel Whiteread's Internal Objects (2021). The mixed media installations at the centre of the show are made up of recognisable objects—bits of tree and corrugated iron—cobbled together to make something akin to the treehouse that all good parents try to build at the bottom of the garden.

Waddington Custot is organising children's events around its show Paul Feeley: Space Stands Still during London Gallery Weekend Photo: Rob Harris. Courtesy of Waddington Custot

Paul Feeley: Space Stands Still

Until 6 June, Waddington Custot, 11-12 Cork Street, W1S 3LT

Waddington Custot is creating its own programme for kids during LGW. The designer Fraser Muggeridge, who also designed the catalogue for the exhibition Paul Feeley: Space Stands Still (until 6 June), is making a creative pack for children looking at the themes in the show. Additionally, on Friday 4 June (when LGW focuses on galleries in central London) the gallery is organising a series of kids’ activities on subjects like composition and colour as well as a “create your own flat pack sculpture” masterclass. The hands-on creative workshops will run from 2pm-5pm (45-minute slots will be bookable online) while the print-out activities will be available through the weekend for self-led sessions in the gallery. Handy also for parents working out their Ikea assembly instructions.

Check out The Art Newspaper's guide to London Gallery Weekend for recommendations on the best exhibitions to see during the three-day event, top trends and commentary

Click here for the full list of galleries taking part in London Gallery Weekend

The Art Newspaper is an official media partner of London Gallery Weekend