Kids naturally gravitate towards art – they love to get creative, some adore messy play while other just like to look at it. Ireland is bursting with galleries and exhibitions, and there are so many family-friendly art places for kids to get creative. The best bit? Many of them are free too!
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Creativity is vitally important for kids – whether that’s drawing, painting, writing or making, and an opportunity to see art in galleries and museums is so inspiring.
Many of our these memorable places to visit around the country offer family-friendly art-based activities on a regular basis, and quite a number of them are free.
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Amazing Art Places for Kids in Dublin
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Dublin
The National Museum of Ireland has 3 different museums across Dublin – Decorative Arts, Archaeology and Natural History.
All of them run free events for families, but for those with an interest in the arts, the Museum of Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks is the place to visit. Check their website for upcoming events for all ages including crafts, tours, exhibitions, workshops and drop-in activities.
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The Ark, Dublin
The Ark is a purpose-built cultural centre in Temple Bar where children aged 2-12 can discover dance, film, literature, theatre, music and art. They create lots of opportunities for children to discover and love art. They work with leading artists, host regular engaging exhibitions and children can also enjoy performances in their child-sized theatre.
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National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
The recently renovated National Gallery, that houses the national collection of Irish and European art, is located in Merrion Square.
The National Gallery also hosts free regular drop-in family sessions, a free art-making workshop and family-friendly tours of the collection tailored to engage young visitors.
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Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
Also known as the IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art is Ireland’s leading national institute for modern and contemporary art in Dublin. They present a large variety of art, exhibitions, drop-in arts & crafts workshops throughout the year.
They hold EXPLORER Family Workshops on Sundays where you can get creative together as a family, explore artworks with IMMA staff, and enjoy a hands-on workshop in the galleries. Explorer is drop-in, fun and free. There are also Holiday Family Workshops during school holidays when children and grown-ups can enjoy visiting an exhibition and making artworks together.
Giddy Studios, Dublin
An enchanting place full of colour located in Dundrum Town Centre, Giddy Studios is a pottery painting and creative studio who provide a variety of packages including summer camps, workshops, drop off services (so parents can go shopping in peace) and general painting fun.
Little Arts in Malahide, Dublin
Little Arts hold Art & Crafts classes in the Pastoral Centre in Malahide for kids aged 5-10. Free creativity is encouraged every Friday from 3-4pm.
Artzone is one of Ireland’s leading children’s Art Schools run by fully qualified art teachers. Welcoming over 2,200 students each week, Artzone host workshops, camps, classes and even birthday parties.
Artzone Studios is located in Rathfarnham but they run classes and camps in 15 venues across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath.
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
With free admission and described by the Lonely Planet as “one of the best in Europe”, the Chester Beatty Library is also the only museum in Ireland to win ‘European Museum of the Year’.
The library’s rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. There are regular art workshops for preschoolers, primary aged children and teens.
Yes you may be surprised to see Dublin Castle on our list, but since at least the seventeenth century, the collection at Dublin Castle has been an important expression of artistic and cultural production in Ireland and further afield.
Today, the collection consists of a wide variety of artworks from across the spectrum of the fine and decorative arts.
They have a variety of activity sheets available free of charge for use throughout the State Apartments, for example, the Family Trail has fun art activities included on it. There are also regular family events on their events calendar.
National Print Museum, Dublin
The National Print Museum offers a range of guided tours, workshops and educational resources for young people. The Museum’s permanent exhibition is laid out in the same style as an old print shop with a Composing Area, Printing Area and Finishing Area.
The Museum also hosts a variety of exciting workshops throughout the year, such as Introduction to Letterpress, Calligraphy, Bookbinding, Printmaking – Etching, Japanese Woodblock Printmaking and many more.
Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin
The beautiful Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square houses the foremost public collection of contemporary art in Ireland, and the gallery also has dynamic temporary exhibitions.
There is a fabulous children’s area and learning resource centre where children, families and teachers can further explore the various exhibitions together in their own space and at their own time.
Children can really get the creative juices flowing at the regular children’s workshops including Saturday art classes, so check out what’s on before you visit, as many require pre-booking.
Creative Art Places for Kids Around Ireland
Glór in Ennis is a multi purpose arts and music venue. Upstairs in their art space they have regular art exhibitions and the Visual Arts programme at Glór highlights artistic achievements of people all around the country with guided tours and artist talks. There are also frequent arts workshops for children so keep an eye on their website.
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On Sight Art Trail at NMI Country Life, Mayo
On Sight is an annual summer art trail in the grounds of the National Museum of Ireland Country Life in Turlough Park, Co. Mayo. The purpose of the art trail is to encourage visitors to explore the themes of the Museum through outdoor art works. It is also to encourage artists to create works in a site specific location.
It is a partnership project of the National Museum of Ireland, Mayo County Council, Mayo Arts Squad and independent artists.
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Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
Dedicated to visual arts, both historic and contemporary, Crawford Art Gallery is the National Cultural Institution and regional art museum in Munster.
Crawford Art Gallery welcomes over 200,000 visitors each year and boast almost 4,000 pieces of art. Admission is free and they host regular exhibitions, education programmes and family events including art classes for children, summer courses and every Sunday there is something on for the whole family.
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Visual in Carlow
Best known as one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art spaces, Visual in Carlow boasts four world-class gallery spaces and a 320-seat performance space.
Visual host regular movie nights, workshops, lectures, theatre performances and family events including Parent and Toddler art classes, and once-a-month Family Art Workshops, where the whole family can get involved in fun art activities.
They also have a drop-in Make and Do table where small folk can draw and make to their heart’s content, as well as fun, interactive worksheets to help children (and adults too!) explore the season’s exhibitions (these are available free at Reception).
Keep an eye out on their events page, as the arts centre frequently invite kids to explore their gallery space and provide materials for free to get creative.
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The Model, Sligo
The Model is an art & music venue in Sligo with a 240-seat theatre, acoustic room, galleries and a cinema.
Here you will find regular exhibitions including children’s and young people’s artwork, creative art camps, family days including craft workshops and secret movie screenings.
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Galway Arts Centre
The Galway Arts Centre is free gallery located on Dominick Street in Galway, open Monday to Saturday. They also host a variety of activities for the whole family including classes in art, writing and photography. They have an exciting Visual Arts programme lined up for 2018.
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The Hunt Museum, Limerick
At The Hunt Museum in Limerick, there’s a Kids’ Arts and Crafts Club on the first Sunday of every month where children learn new skills while they are involved in a fun project with parents. Every month a new theme and craft is presented.
There is also Drop in Arts & Crafts sessions on the remaining Sundays at 3-4pm where kids create crafts on a specific theme which are linked to objects in the Museum’s collection, as well as enjoy a small tour where they learn about the objects.
Source Arts Centre, Thurles
The Source Arts Centre is a 250-seat theatre, visual art gallery and community space studio located in the heart of Thurles town.
Source regularly host summer camps, art projects and workshops for children of all ages. Throughout the year they also host exhibitions and visual art displays for all the family to enjoy.
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Hook Lighthouse, Wexford
Many people know the Hook Lighthouse – it’s a well-known building situated on Hook Head in County Wexford, one of the beautiful examples of old medieval architecture in Ireland. But did you know that during the summer months, they have a great Art Centre behind the little café area where kids can make & paint clay on a slate? Lots of fun!
Solstice Arts Centre, Meath
Solstice Arts Centre in Navan is Meath’s centre for the arts, presenting free art exhibitions, theatre events, regular cinema screenings. They also run regular events and activities for children, including Kids theatre, art, dance, music and drama events. There are two gallery spaces with 2-3 exhibitions held per season.
Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford
Garter Lane Arts Centre is a vibrant and thriving venue for visual arts, theatre, dance, comedy, music, film and literature, hosting a theatre, galleries and rehearsal space in the heart of Waterford City.
Their outreach programme includes a diverse range of creative activities for babies, toddlers, children and their families and young people.
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Limerick City Gallery of Art
Limerick City Gallery of Art invites you to see the best of contemporary art through the exhibition programme and to enjoy their extensive collection of Irish art. They hold art SPACE sessions for kids and parents for children to engage with the exhibits in Limerick City Gallery of Art in a fun and inspiring way.
The sessions are given by trained artists and facilitators and introduce kids to contemporary art in a fun and relaxed way. Booking is essential, contact email@example.com for information and bookings.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork
Located at the main entrance to University College Cork, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery is a cultural and educational institution that promotes the research, creation and exploration of the visual arts. Admission is free (there’s a suggested donation of €5).
As well as art exhibitions to visit, they have free art workshops for families on Sunday afternoons 3-4pm, led by professional artists, these fun and interactive events invite families to learn all about making art. They also run Summer Art Clubs, Creative STEAM workshops and more.
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Wexford Arts Centre
The Wexford Arts Centre in Wexford Town hosts a year-round programme of contemporary art exhibitions. They offer free admission with educational free talks for the public, as well as workshops for all ages for toddlers and parents, school children. They host vibrant events in theatre, music, comedy, and dance with after-school programmes.
National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny
The National Design & Craft Gallery is Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design. They aim to inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation through exhibitions, events and education programmes. As they say, visiting a gallery doesn’t have to be serious or boring.
They hold Crafternoon Tours, as well as Craft Club Workshops throughout the year, which explore the current exhibitions through playful experimentation with materials, techniques and ideas. On the second Saturday of the month they also invite young makers to the National Design & Craft Gallery to take part in a hands-on craft workshop that begins with a tour of the gallery, specially designed to get you in the mood for creating.
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What are your favourite art places for kids? Where else should we add to our list? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!