Tate Modern With Kids (London)

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Is it worth visiting the Tate Modern with kids? We find out. Having an enjoyable and worthwhile visit to a modern art museum with kids is probably one of the harder tricks to pull off. I’ve only got my kids to go by. I don’t know yours, sorry, but mine have zero interest in looking at paintings and art work unless something seriously kid-friendly and incredible is going on.

We took them along to London’s Tate Modern Museum and tried a couple of kid friendly tours and audio guides along with testing the kids’ facilities for family-friendly appeal. How did our Tate Modern Kids get on? Find out in our review.

Tate Modern with Kids. London's Tate Modern Art Museum with kids and for families

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London’s Tate Modern art museum in South London is great with kids and can be very child-friendly so long as your visit stays fun.

There are some child pleasing areas, a good restaurant and cafe, a shop, and kids’ audio guides to enjoy.

Many kids can enjoy looking at paintings, so long as you spark some interest first. That’s part of how we get our kids through art gallery doors. The well-designed kids audio guides made our day even better.

Be sure to check out the playgrounds, street performers and fun things to see and do near the Tate Modern as part of your visit to the South Bank.

Tate Modern with Kids

When it comes to modern art, I know very little, so the Tate Modern is a hard one for me too.

I was always branded “scientist” and never studied art in school at all, but I’m a Dali fan, a passion found long after school. We all enjoyed our time at his Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, but the Tate Modern is a totally different kettle of calamari.

I’m happy to report, Mum and the boys, then aged 10 and 8, had a wonderful day out at London’s Tate Modern and we all learned a thing or two. (And have returned many times since.)

tate modern kids art wall
Let them play and create at the stunning art wall outside the Tate Modern cafe.

Preparation! Get them interested, excited and hooked, years ahead if you can. My boys have been hearing about this amazing man Salvador Dali and looking at his works practically since birth.

We’ve found that when they think of someone as super-famous, and know why, they’re keener to see his creations in the flesh. So when I told them there were a few Dalis at the Tate Modern, they went from “No-way.” to “OK.”.

Follow Their Agenda, Not Yours. If they want to spend an hour in the gift shop, watch a video artwork of oil and sugar lumps three times or make creation after creation of their own on the Tate Modern’s awesome wall of art, let them.

Keep them sweet and let them enjoy their day. Don’t rush them along and force what you want to do on them.

That’s how we have to do it anyway!

Feed and Water Them Well. Something yummy from the Tate’s cafe improves everyone’s outlook.

Audio Guides. My new secret weapon, everywhere we go, we look for kids’ audio guides. They’ve totally changed our way of doing things lately. If none are available, try a guided tour.

The Tate Modern kids audio guides come in variations they had 2 different kid-friendly audio tours when we visited we’ve done one, I hope to squeeze in the other before we leave. You have to pay a small amount (£10 for the 3 of us), but who’s complaining when the museum is free?

So, armed with all my best tricks, what highlights did we three find?

Our audio guides synchronized, we started our journey into an artist’s brain, on a mission to explore textures, shapes and colours, nightmares and dreams.

We were encouraged to touch surfaces, feel textures, run around particular galleries spotting as many shapes as we could in a given time, then find personal favourites to share with our group.

This tour wasn’t about artists and dates, it was more about looking at art and thinking about it.

taking kids to the tate modern
A treasure hunt of colours, shapes and textures

The audio guide split the museum into galleries and gave us time to move around, taking escalators and lifts. The kids remained engaged all afternoon and had a lot of fun.

At times there were pauses where we talked and shared ideas and impressions, at others they were free to explore at their own speed.

We studied this piece and then shared our thoughts, did it make us think of Stonehenge or a futuristic apocalypse?

Tate Modern Guides Kids
Listening, thinking, looking. Tate Modern Kids.

We were asked to pick our favourite installation and use it as inspiration for the start of a novel.

My choice, “Who killed all the sheep!” A work consisting of dyed wool.

The kids found futuristic weapons, like something from Hunger Games, hanging on the wall.

We saved the most well known modern paintings for last, the Dalis, Picassos and the kids’ favourite, Hillier’s Variation on the Form of an Anchor.

We looked into the artist’s brain, at his dreams and nightmares and picked out the worst and best dreams we could find.

My highlight, as always, Dali. And seeing my kids happy and learning good things as part of their worldschooling, nothing beats that.

I haven’t shared photos with the artworks as the main subject as I was concerned about copyright, but photography for personal use is permitted. We hope you find our review and information on the Tate Modern with kids useful. The National Gallery of Art also offers kids tours and audio guides that my boys and I enjoyed, read about those by clicking through. We also have posts and information on many more of London’s museums, we are travelling Londoners and educators, we dig museums. So get your family down to the Tate Modern and have a fun, low-cost, day out in London. Read more on London with children here.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

4 thoughts on “Tate Modern With Kids (London)”

  1. I never miss the chance to hit that museum when I’m in London! I love the building and they always have new displays. I’ve never actually done an audioguide at this museum (and we haven’t been overseas since our daughter was born), but I’m excited to hear how neat the one there sounds. I can’t wait to share it with our daughter, when she gets a little older!

  2. Great tips! We just visited the Keith Haring exhibit at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco this afternoon. We happened to have my daughter’s journal and pen with us. On her own, she decided to pull it out and draw one of the paintings she was looking at. I honestly would not have thought this up on my own! It’s another great way to get kids more involved and interested when spending time in an art museum.

    • Yes, that too! We’ve often seen art students sketching in the British Museum, my eldest wants to do the same, we took his sketch pad along last time but it was just after Christmas and it was way too busy, but next time!


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