Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nottingham Contemporary family visit review

Family fun pack
This summer, money and time constraints have resulted in a family 'stay-cation' for me and the boys but I am determined to try and do as many things as possible to make this summer memorable before my eldest starts Junior school in September. So Notts - here we come!

One place that I love to visit is the Nottingham Contemporary, a contemporary arts centre in the city centre. I don't drive and luckily it's positioned right near the Lace Market tram stop so it's nice and easy to access for me coming from Hucknall.


The Contemporary is free to enter and I've taken Fin (8yrs) a few times in the school holidays as they always have something going on for kids. They try and tie in the kids activities with the current exhibition which makes it really interesting and relevant.

Upon entering we were greeted by a lovely lady who asked us if we'd like a 'family activity bag' which was essentially a rucksack filled with fun activities for the kids to play with whilst I looked around at the exhibits.
She also directed us to the 'Model Me' workshop which was especially created for kids to make models of themselves and then take photos in the 'World's Biggest Photo Booth'. Of course, we went straight down to the workshop and I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of toys to entertain Milo (2yrs) as well as a massive space for Fin to create his models and take some photos in the booth.

I loved how there was activities for all ages as Milo just likes to run free but there was only one member of staff handing out modelling sets and he handed Fin some modelling dough in a bag without explaining what we were supposed to do so it was only after Fin made a character did we realise you were supposed to make a model of yourself. Not that this was a problem as he had fun regardless but it would have been nice if he explained what the activity was all about.

When it came time to use the photo booth there was no-one explaining how it worked so myself and a few groups of adults were working out the lighting system and that the booth took multiple photos. The photos are then projected onto the wall behind and Fin loved seeing himself, in fact he couldn't wait to get back into the booth and take more photos!
Coudn't wait to try out the family fun pack!
Toys and a tent to entertain Milo
After the workshop activities were exhausted, we decided to investigate the fun pack and make our way up to the art exhibition area. Fin decided he wanted to use the blindfold and blanket to pretend to be a statue and feel his way around the open space. Now, this sounds great in theory (and he loved wearing a blindfold..!) but once I noticed that the main exhibits were mounted on tall plinths I felt very apprehensive about him potentially walking into them and knocking them over. I didn't want to stop him having fun so I tried finding another activity that was more suitable for the space which was easy as the rucksack was packed full of fun stuff.
The boys LOVED the blanket to hide under!
Trying out different textured 'viewers' to look at the exhibits in a different way
The exhibition rooms are full of interesting art pieces and I did get to have a quick look around, but the day was more about the boys than me so I was happy just to enjoy our time together and have fun talking about what we could see.

The only *slightly* embarrassing moment came when we entered the a room filled with more adult exhibits. We looked around for a few minutes and I felt lots of eyes on me and it wasn't until 5mins or so after we entered that a member of staff suggested the content was adult in nature and that it was up to me to decide what my children could see. I'm no prude but I was mortified as Fin had already run around and looked at the images on the walls as I was attempting to stop Milo touching an exhibit. I understand that art is subjective and the gallery isn't specifically aimed at children but I would suggest that perhaps someone could have mentioned this adult exhibition previously and I could avoided that room altogether as I think people viewing the art were also made to feel uncomfortable by an 8yr old tearing around the room and giggling!!

All in all we had a fun day and I'd definitely recommend a visit but I'd probably stick to staying in the workshop space as the kids can run free and you don't have to worry about them potentially ruining an expensive piece of art with dirty hands...



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