Brimming with beauty and with a long, creative tradition, Prague is a beacon for art lovers. From large national galleries housing world-renown masterpieces to smaller, edgier exhibitions in renovated factories, it would be hard not to find something to suit most tastes. For the youngest crowd, many of Prague’s art museums offer workshops, trails and play spaces, making this also a great city for families keen to add some culture to their itinerary.
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is always a good starting point. Not only do the exhibitions here often contain interactive elements (recent installations have included a huge mock-up gym, VR installations and the chance to cycle around while watching music videos), but the café comes with a toddler-friendly play-area and there is a Gallery Game museum trail for older kids. The highlight for my young children, though, is climbing onto the wooden airship Gulliver which appears to hover over the museum building.
The tone of the DOX is encapsulated by their maxim,
‘In an age when growing numbers of people tend to think dangerously alike, art´s capacity to suspend, even for a moment, our habitual ways of seeing may well prove to be of its greatest value.’
For children who are keen on experimentation in their own artwork, DOX runs a series of children’s days over the summer featuring fun, hands-on workshops. Exploring the design shop, featuring beautiful picture books and Fatra’s retro inflatable animals (based on the iconic 1950s Czech toys), is also popular with those who have a little pocket money to spend.
Another museum which defies expectations is Galerie Rudolfinum. Behind its elegant neo-Renaissance exterior, is a showcase for both international and Czech contemporary artists who seek to confront and surprise. Over the course of the gallery’s 130-year history, the short-term exhibitions have included works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Krištof Kintera.
In addition to the thought-provoking artwork in the Rudolfinum’s main gallery, children will enjoy a visit to ArtPark. This free education center contains playful installations which are regularly updated to reflect the themes of each new exhibition. Always interactive, this space provides open-ended opportunities for exploration and is worth a stop off with active toddlers through to creative teens.
On Sunday afternoons, ArtPark also hosts workshops for primary school-aged kids, with younger children being allowed to join with their parents. Although instruction is predominately in Czech, non-Czech speakers will be able to follow along with the practical art projects. The gallery’s elegant café, with its relaxed atmosphere, makes a perfect place to indulge in a post-gallery treat.
Introducing kids to eye-catching contemporary art may seem like a straight-forward choice compared to taking children into a gallery filled with more traditional paintings. However, the National Gallery of Prague has taken the bold step of encouraging children to visit their collection of medieval and early Renaissance in the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia.
A short walk from the Old Town Square, the convent offers an enclave of serenity in Prague’s tourist center. Older children who have an interest in artistic technique may enjoy using the free app - Hidden Secrets of Medieval Painting - to explore the exhibition. They may also relish learning about St Agnes herself – who’s independent spirit has earned her kudos as a very early feminist icon. Younger children, on the other hand, will want to hunt out the small, creative play space on the ground floor. Here there is the chance to experiment with stencils, stamps and drawing with quills.
For children not in the right mood for the hushed beauty of the convent, the free sculpture garden is still worth visiting. Home to a collection of contemporary installations, the lawn here is a good spot to sit on a sunny day and enjoy a snack away from the crowds. Little tikes will no doubt enjoy the wonderful little playhouse designed by Czech artist, František Skála.
Of course, the National Gallery of Prague takes an inclusive approach at its main building in the Trade Fair Palace too. As we have highlighted before, the gallery’s regular term-time toddler workshops provide young children with the chance to get messy and explore a range of materials and techniques. Whereas the museum’s Café Jedna is a popular haunt for local families due to its large, light space and sweet, carpeted play area.
And so, with plenty of hands-on artistic opportunities, as well as some excellent family-friendly museum cafes, Prague makes a great city for both young and old culture vultures alike.