Galleries aren’t only for the silent ponder. Here is a list of galleries in Britain that foster rambunctious, hands-on glee.
Wallace Collection, London: One of the most sumptuous townhouses in London, this seems a strange place for children. But it manages to make Limoges enamels and Spanish medieval pottery fascinating and family friendly. There are drop-in art workshops, special hands-on family days, visiting trails and great cakes in the cafe.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield: Although there are four indoor galleries, it’s the vast expanse of 18th-century parkland that makes this one of the most stunning settings for the display of modern art, a huge gallery without walls. Children can touch the outside art, experiencing it in a very different way to being inside a gallery. There are family walks and workshops, like making your own stone markers. ysp.co.uk
Museum of Costume, Bath: It’s better than the biggest department store. Menswear, womenswear, accessories, dresses, coats, jackets, corsets, knitwear, shirts, blouses, waistcoats, fans … — they’re all here. The oldest fashion items are embroidered shirts and gloves from about 1600; the most modern is a navy blue and gold star trouser suit by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, worn by Kate Moss for her birthday party in 2008.
National Portrait Gallery, London: Pictures of people are always fascinating, and you’ve got all kinds of them here. There are kings and queens sitting right next to regicides — those whose claim to fame is that they murdered members of the royal family. There are celebrity portraits, including actor Daniel Radcliffe and footballer Rio Ferninand, so older children can spot their favourite personality.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London: This is a treasure trove of 3,000 years of beautiful artefacts from around the world. Highlights are Tippoo’s Tiger, an automaton showing the beast killing a man in the South Asia room, and Kylie’s dressing room transplanted, complete with half-used lip gloss, into the Theatre and Performance gallery. The newly-renovated courtyard has a pond to paddle in during hot weather. Shortlisted for Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award. vam.ac.uk
Beningbrough Hall and Gardens, North Yorkshire: In this grand Georgian mansion you’re encouraged to roar in appreciation at the 18th-century portraits. Instead of the usual trust volunteer room wardens, teenagers are trained up to do workshops for younger children, including an 18th-century graffiti wall. nationaltrust.org.uk