8 must-knows when taking kids to Children's Biennale 2021 at National Gallery
The beautiful installations at the 2021 Children's Biennale at Singapore's National Gallery will capture the imagination of young and grown-up visitors.
The first time we visited the Children's Biennale at the National Gallery was in 2019. Though it was crowded and we got a little lost in the National Gallery as it was our first time there, both kids and adults still had a fun and pleasant experience. So, we were naturally excited to return to this year's event!
Held once every two years, this year's on-site Children's Biennale started on 6 November and will run till the end of this year. This year's theme of "Why Art Matters" features nine installations. Albeit it being a rushed trip for us, we enjoyed ourselves this time round as well! So, here are eight things to know when taking your kids to the Children's Biennale 2021!
1) What are the opening hours?
The exhibition is open as per the National Gallery's opening hours of 10am-7pm daily.
2) Where are the exhibits?
The National Art Gallery is made up of two wings – the City Hall Wing and the Supreme Court Wing. The exhibitions at Children’s Biennale is spread across these two wings and over three levels - Basement 1, Level 1 and Level 3. Grab a copy of the Children's Biennale guide when you arrive for easy navigation!
3) Do you need tickets?
This event is free for all and no ticket or pre-booking is required.
4) How much time should you budget for it?
The Children's Biennale guide (see above) suggests three hours for the full experience with all nine exhibits and one hour to catch four suggested highlights.
Well, we were there for around one hour and we caught eight out of nine of the installations - this including the time we spent queuing to enter some of the exhibitions. Not saying that an hour is enough for it but we had plans thereafter so we really only had an hour to spare. So it was really a chop-chop visit for us.
On hindsight, it would have been nicer if we had another half or one hour to spare so we could linger a bit longer to appreciate some of the exhibitions that we really liked. If for any reason you're in a hurry, or just don't want to be out for too long, it's doable in an hour though. But spare at least one hour as some of the exhibitions do have a queue to enter as there are limited capacities at some of them and you can only enter when others have exited.
5) How crowded is it?
We were there on the opening day on a Saturday morning, so I supposed it was a little crowded as everyone had the same idea of visiting asap! There was already a queue waiting to enter the Keppel Centre for Art Education at 10am when we arrived. Due to capacity limits, these exhibitions also had queues to enter when we were there: Because it Makes Me Feel, Head/Home and Voices from the Centers. But that said, the first two queues moved pretty fast and we probably waited only for five to ten minutes for each. It'd probably be better to go on weekdays which I heard from friends are less crowded compared to the weekends!
6) What not to miss?
Not surprisingly, the installations my kids and I enjoyed the most had queues to enter. Here are the ones we think you really should not miss and ought to spend a bit more time on.
Because it Makes Me Feel at Level 1
This is a really pretty installation about homes and what gives you a sense of belonging. One of the staff told us to go for this first as he expected there to be a queue for this as it's really beautiful and kids would love it.
Well, turned out he was right as it looked really magical. The little houses and tents, some which you can enter to do some crafts...
....are great for little ones to explore!
Head/Home at B1
This intricate installation made of cardboard is quite a sight to behold!
We spent a bit of time examining the homes and structures made out of cardboard and I could tell my kids were duly impressed!
Conversations with an Octopus at Level 1
This whimsical installation takes you on an adventure with a girl and her friend, an octopus, as they explore an enchanted forest and undersea library.
The beautiful exhibition makes you feel like you have fallen into a gorgeous picture book!
Voices from the Centers accompanying display at Padang Atrium
It's easy to be caught up in the exhibitions but it's worth spending a few minutes marveling at this display at the Padang Atrium!
My INK-credible Adventure at Level 1
This is not part of the Children's Biennale but it's right next to Because it Makes Me Feel, so you can't miss it. Kids will have fun 'drawing' and 'creating' with digital ink by clapping, snapping their fingers, stomping and waving their hands in the air!
7) Is it more for younger or older kids?
I think the Children's Biennale is something both kids and adults can enjoy. Older kids would be able to better appreciate some the artwork like Head/Home and A Day's Book...
...but there are also those that younger ones would enjoy like Conversations with an Octopus (which little ones can have fun running around!), Because it Makes Me Feel (they can crawl into tents there!) and Illuminated which lets visitors design their own story and imaginative world with magnets.
I felt there were less interactive and hands-on activities compared to the 2019 event but that's understandable given social distancing measures during the pandemic. That said, I still think it's definitely worth taking kids, both younger and older, for a visit.
8) Where to park?
I felt I had to include this as it was the first time we parked at the National Gallery's carpark and we almost missed the carpark entrance. After turning right at the end of Supreme Court Lane into Coleman street, look left for the carpark entrance, not right where the National Gallery building is. You'll need to do a U-turn as the carpark entrance is opposite the National Gallery building.
If I have the chance, I'd love to visit the Children's Biennale again on a quieter weekday to better appreciate the installations in a less hurried manner! Anyway, this exhibition runs till the end of this year, there's still time to visit on a weekday with your little ones during the school holidays!
If you've already been to the Children's Biennale, let me know what is your favourite installation?😉
Disclaimer: My opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.