(Hannah here again, Davina's been on holiday! Jealous. Anyway:) Before I got pregnant I didn't really make the most of the incredible free galleries and museums in London. The odd visit to the Tate modern perhaps, or the occasional Sunday stroll around the British Museum. But my valiant cultural intentions were always thwarted by annoying things like working and being tired, or less annoying things like drinking with friends. Then I got myself up-duffed and to use an oft repeated cliche, everything changed. Like most pregnant women, I looked forward to vegetating on the sofa and enjoying my tiny baby during my maternity leave, and there certainly was a lot of vegetating on the sofa. But I also saw it as an opportunity to try to get round all those museums and galleries I'd wanted to visit.
So we did. We started with The BP portrait prize and although it took 3 attempts with a hungry baby, we did it. Buoyed by initial, if a little wobbly, success, and not much loving the typical baby groups i’d encountered, We began to visit more and more galleries and museums, and as by the time my maternity leave ended, the tally reached 40. Along the way we saw the Death exhibition at The Wellcome collection, the Pre-Raphaelites show at the Tate, both Korean eye and Hong Kong eye at The Saatchi gallery, the Lichtenstein retrospective etc, as well as some brilliant and very endearing weird and wonderful museums too. All of these were tackled with Frankie strapped to my chest in the Boba wrap either contentedly sleeping, sneakily breast feeding, or engaging with the textures, colours, and sounds of the spaces we were in with avid fascination.
These gallery jaunts were uplifting and relaxing for me, stimulating and engaging for Frankie and a very welcome and much needed break from the more typical baby activities we did together. Because sometimes, the prospect of spending yet another hour stacking cups for my child to demolish, or heading to rhyme time at the library AGAIN, gave me a cold sweat. So I scarpered off to town instead, alone with Frankie or with other intrepid parent and kid explorers.
On Tuesday the British Museum will host a child friendly morning viewing where parents can bring their kids to the Vikings exhibition without worrying about them being noisy. I went to the first event last year and it was wonderful. Discounted ticket, free tea and coffee and a talk from the curator. You will be able to take your buggy into the exhibition space or leave it in the buggy park. There will be baby changing and feeding facilities, and staff on hand to answer questions and help out. Whether you and your kids are seasoned gallery connoisseurs, or you’ve never been, this event is designed for you. I will be there and it would be lovely to see some of you there too. This isn't sponsored, by the way, but my friend works there and I think these events are brilliant. More information and tickets here.
If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of taking babies and kids to galleries, check out Culture Babies and Kids in Museums.