A few times a year, the National Gallery of Australia creates a colourful kids play space at the entrance to the gallery, which relates to a current exhibition or artist. Every time it changes, it is a new opportunity for the kids around Canberra, as well as tourists, to travel into the city and see what exciting play area they have created this time. On 16th December, 2017 the new NGA Play opened up called Indieguerillas, which will be in place until 13th May, 2018. This free play space was created by the artist duo Indieguerillas, who are a husband and wife team from Indonesia who are inspired by the trends of the social media, as well as traditional customs and stories.
Everywhere you look are colourful and original artworks which are uplifting, creative and fascinating in their combination of cultures. It is an interesting place for adults, however NGA Play is all about the kids - nothing is off limits!
When you first enter the large play area there is a colouring-in table to the left and down the middle is a stationary bike that you ride to activate a quirky Xylophone on the other side - so the faster you ride, the more sound you make. Behind this is another stationary bike which moves a picture that revolves around in a colourful story in front of you. Take a walk around these humorous inventions and work out how they're made!
Also in this room is a line of iPads with a game to create your own colourful avatar. First, you select a "new" picture and then add a background, face, head, torso, arms and accessories. Once complete, Mums and Dads can then enter their email address and the picture gets sent to them via email to print out at home. My daughter was excited (and a little confused!) to find her picture on the computer at home, later that night.
Behind this wall is a darkened room with an interactive game called Tidy-Up Vinnie's Room, which is particularly popular with older kids. Stand on the yellow squares and put your arms out in a "T" so the camera can find you and then start moving the rubbish from the screen with your arms, into the bin. On our visit there were too many kids waiting to play it, however, there are beanbags for kids to wait on and staff on-hand to keep the line moving.
If that's not enough to do, the next room also has a colourful slide, activity tables to create your own fold-together cardboard figures and a whole wall to colour in. Most kids looked at their parents with surprise when they told them they could colour on the walls!
NGA Play is a fun place to visit each time they change it, however, this NGA Play: Indiequerrillas is particularly well-done. The colour and originality of the artwork is eye-catching and the activities keep the kids captivated at each station. There is also a wide range of activities for different ages - all children will get something out of this fun and free space. Allow at least half an hour for the kids to try out each station, but be warned - they won't want to leave!
After your visit, also explore the rest of the National Gallery of Australia and show them some of the most famous paintings in history. They may not appreciate them just yet (or even like them!) but it opens up a conversation about what art is - and isn't. For example, after spending the last hour playing in the colourful NGA Play: Indieguerrillas, my daughter looked at this painting (below) and turned around and said...