Museums and kids – a tricky combination! Some museums are just plain boring and some are so big, that you got no idea where to start or where to find something interesting for your little one. Sydney, like many other large cities, has lots of different museums. Here are my tips and tricks to include a little bit of culture into your family trip.
In general, I recommend shorter visits to a museum with breaks for a snack or a bit of running around in between. Many museums offer activity booklets or kids guide books to spark their interest.
Powerhouse Museum – is a science museum located in Ultimo, close to the CBD. This museum makes it rather easy for parents as they even have a designated kids website! Exhibition can be quite diverse, but always offer some hands-on-experience so that kids can touch and try out as much as they like. There are workshops on offer and the outdoor playground is right next to the café – rather convenient.
Art Gallery of NSW – the gallery is situated in The Domain, CBD. Modern and contemporary works are displayed, including dedicated galleries celebrating the arts of Asia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Admission to the gallery is free, only for a few exhibitions you will need to buy a ticket. The gallery offers events for kids, including tours for toddlers (last Tuesday of each month, 10.30am), free sunday performances (Second & last Sunday of every month, 2.30pm) with storytelling, music and mime and audio tours for children.
If you live in Sydney or nearby, you can become a member and your kids can join the Kids Club.
Museum of Contemporary Art – the museum offers several activities for kids, usually on Wednesday mornings: art baby – 1,5 hrs tours of MCA exhibitions for parents, carers and babies up to one year old (AUD15 per adult); art safari for kids aged 3 to 5 years with play-based activities, including storytelling, drama and art making (AUD15 per child, free for Parents and Carers) and artplay in the Bella Room, a dedicated interactive space, particularly suitable for under fives, to explore sculptural objects and wooden blocks.
Australian National Maritime Museum – if you and your little one love ships, pirates and everything related to water, then try the Australian National Maritime Museum. The museum offers tours, crafts and story time for Mini Mariners (children under five, usually on Tuesday mornings), Kids on Deck for children aged 5-12 (Sundays and school holidays) and during school holidays also for kids aged 8 to 14. In addition, every Sunday is family fun time for kids aged 5 to 12 with crafts, games and books.
Cockatoo Island – now to some open air art: the heritage-listed island is situated in the middle of Sydney harbor, a former convict prison which was transformed into a dockyard. Taking the ferry to the island is part of the fun and for kids aged 7 and up there are activity booklets on offer for different challenges. Just keep in mind the schedule of the ferries and the opening time of the café (or bring your own snacks and drinks)!
Q Station – I mentioned the restaurant of the Q Station in an earlier post, but the family ghost tours (usually Friday and Saturday evenings) are also fascinating without a meal. From the 1830s to 1984 migrant ships arriving in Sydney with suspected contagious disease stopped inside North Head and off-loaded passengers and crew into quarantine to protect local residents from becoming sick. The 2 hours tour shows the live of people working in the quarantine station and of passengers staying here for an average of 40 days.
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