A couple of weeks ago I posted about a family trip to Junglerama, and wondered what museums or galleries can do to draw in kids the way Junglerama can. It’s only fair in retrospect to acknowledge the Dowse in Lower Hutt and the fun both my kids had at their exhibition, Play: International Design for Children. Here then, are a few pics.

Boy and bubble toy

Boy on a duck

Happy family

I’ve been visiting the Dowse regularly and they always seem to have something on for kids. Better than that, the kid exhibitions are never too far from the grown-up exhibitions where you can see pictures like this.

Saskia Leek, Untitled (2011)
Saskia Leek, Untitled (2011)

Saskia Leek, Smoke (2002)
Saskia Leek, Smoke (2002) (see a better, more legitimate version at the Darren Knightley Gallery)

As my partner commented, what the Dowse is doing is normalising the experience of going to a gallery for kids – give them something when they’re young to get them in the door and used to being there and they’ll be back for the rest of their lives. Maybe every gallery should be putting on something for the kids all the time; one day kids might even start choosing to go to galleries instead of Junglerama.


One note about getting to the Dowse that day: it was the second of two free activities, the first was a wander around the Makara West West Recreation Area. I’m always surprised at how simple and free activities like that entertain children in the most uncomplicated and stress-free way possible. Looking at cows, poking around an old shed, throwing a few stones at some water, eating some sandwiches looking at the Cook Strait. Without spending a cent, kids can be incredibly happy.

Boy in a shed

Cook Strait from the Makara gun emplacements