The Sydney Side: Museum of Contemporary Art – Toddler in Tow

art, Little Aussie, Sydney

This is the second in my new series on things Sydney related. For more on Sydney, from this series and older posts from this blog, click on the “The Sydney Side” link at the top of the page.

IMG_2688A couple months ago, Partner-in-Crime finally talked me into visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art. I can’t explain why it took so long for me to get there, especially as I’m actually pretty keen on modern art. Once upon a time, I even flew to Pittsburgh for one day, just to visit the Andy Warhol Museum. But, for some reason, I just couldn’t get up the interest, putting it in the “to do later” basket. Finally, P-i-C really wanted to see the pieces from the Biennale, and it being a nice day with nothing else on, I at last couldn’t come up with any reason not to.

Of course, not having a full-time nanny (or a part-time one, for that matter), we brought Hushpuppy along and, surprisingly, she liked it quite a lot. All the visual elements really appealed to her. The museum is also very accessible for strollers – plenty of ramps and elevators – so it turned out to be a nice time for all of us, and I had to wonder why I’d been so stubborn in not going before.

While there, I picked up a brochure with information about children’s programming. On offer for Hushpuppy’s age is the ARTplay program, which takes place on Wednesdays. It was suggested that my toddler and I “(D)rop in anytime between 10.00am and 12.00noon to explore sculptural objects, wooden blocks and let the creative play lead the way. An opportunity for toddlers and parents/carers to communicate and work with sculpture in challenging and unexpected ways.  Sounded pretty rad to me, anyway, so I thought I’d see what my toddler thought, and we popped into the City this morning to give it a try.



We were greeted by a welcoming hipster guy who handed us a tablet to sign in on (soo modern!) and offered the chance to pay what seemed like a pretty mandatory $5 donation. Down the hall, we were greeted by a sweet, grandmotherly staffer who cautioned us to “watch the step” over the baby gate. As a mother, little things like that are a reassurance to know that it’s not their first rodeo with wily toddlers.

The big room was full of simple, yet somehow magical implements. Glittery fabric, felt that stuck to the wall, makeshift magic wands, colorful blocks large and small, books and so forth. A small, dark room in the corner eventually captured Hushpuppy’s curiosity like nothing else, as it had three screens on the wall showing an installation with people in clown costume doing funny things with their faces.

Almost immediately, we happened to run into a fellow American in Sydney mother with a son the same age as Hushpuppy who I haven’t seen in months. It was the first time there for both of us, a nice surprise and ever-mounting evidence of how every big city turns into a small town, once you’ve lived there long enough.

The kids found plenty to entertain them for the almost two hours that we were there. Aside from the screen room, other favorites were the glittery, sheer fabric and the big blocks that they could stack and then knock over.


IMG_2676 IMG_2666 IMG_2671 IMG_2680Throghout the morning, there was also story time (exactly no interest to Hushpuppy, but a lot of the other kids liked it), singing time (moderate interest to Hushpuppy, mostly to do with the shakey eggs they handed out to all the kids), and parachute time (massively interesting to Hushpuppy).

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We had a very creative morning at the MCA, and I’m pleased my attendance drought has been broken. I can see ARTplay going onto our schedule once a month or so. Hushpuppy may just become a modern art junkie before pre-school.