In 2011 The National Gallery of Victoria - St Kilda Road opened the NGV Kids Space, a purpose built facility that hosts exhibitions for a very particular audience - children.
The initial Kids Space offering 'Kaleidoscope', delighted both youngsters and parents alike with its brightly coloured activity rooms and hands-on experiences. Now the NGV has served up another treat for the kids called 'An Excellent Adventure' .
The adventure begins with children getting into character. They can stick their faces through the funny, carnival-like cut-outs, where the body of old-time sea farers has been painted but a hole has been left for the face. They can mix up the giant magnets on the magnet board and from a selection of feathered hat, breeches and sailor's shirts, create entirely new people.
Then it's time to collect their sailing adventure booklets. These colour-printed, cardboard guides will show them exactly what activities to do and how to progress through the exhibition. From then on, it's like a great oceanic journey.
Kids follow the course of famous sea captain, read maps, complete drawings, discover ancient treasures and learn about art along the way. The marvel at the jewels, crowns and other treasure that has been included from the Gallery's collection and at one point they are invited to climb into the model of an Ancient Egyptian tomb to discover a golden sarcophagus inside.
There is a finely painted captain's portrait for them to observe and a scale model of Cook's Endeavor. The National Gallery of Victoria puts enormous effort into giving children an experience of a variety of arts media so there are oil paintings, textiles, ceramic and examples of metalwork for them to observe.
Although, most youngsters are too busy scribbling across the hieroglyphic rubbing plates or building new countries with big foam blocks, to look at the art. They also might be occupied with the constellation carpet, where the star maps that sailors used to use to navigate their way across the globe, appear as light projections upon the floor.
The central room of the Kids Space has this time been transformed into room that mimics the inside of a boat. Clever projection of ocean waves as seen through portholes are played upon the walls to give the sense of a rocking sea voyage and colourful semaphore flags adorn the ceiling.
Those familiar with the design on the NGV Kids Space will be happy to know that the comfortable story corner and the recessed banquettes remain. There's also enough room throughout for prams.
An Excellent Adventure is on now and runs until February 3rd, 2013. Entry is free.