World Art Collections Exhibition
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

May half-term family fun to celebrate Darwin 200 at the Sainsbury Centre

Charles Darwin
Illustration: Sarah Ballard

Families visiting the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts during May half-term (Tuesday 26 – Sunday 31 May) will find lots of fun things they can do for free.

The highlight will be a series of artist-designed creative activities for families to do in the studio, inspired by objects from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection and celebrating Darwin 200. May also sees the launch of a new Pattern and Decoration Explorer Map to help children explore the galleries, which will be available free from Gallery Reception.

“There will be four activities for families to do together in the studio. They are inspired by creatures that Darwin studied in the Galapagos Islands, some of which also feature in the Sainsbury Centre’s permanent collection of world art. Full instructions and all materials are supplied. People can drop-in at any time during gallery opening hours and can take their creations home with them ”
– artist Becca Smith, Education team at the Sainsbury Centre.

Drop-in activities
Make a Monkey: Darwin’s evolutionary theory depicted modern day humans to have evolved from apes. Children can make their own monkey to take home inspired by the beautiful carved wooden monkey from Mexico in the Robert and Lisa and Sainsbury Collection.

Transform a tortoise: Darwin observed that the shape of tortoise shells on the Galapagos Islands had evolved to allow tortoises to lift their necks up to reach food on higher branches. Children will have chance to adapt and design their own tortoise shell based on a simple template. They could also find the tiny turtle bracelet from Hawaii or the scary mask made from tortoiseshell from North America in the galleries.

Folded Finches: Darwin also noticed that the size of finches beaks could vary hugely depending on what food they ate. Children will be able to make a pop-up bird card for Darwin’s 200th birthday and decorate it with feathers. There are some beautiful bird objects in the permanent collection including a Hornbill and Owl Mask from Polynesia.

Inky insects: Darwin was also interested in fossils. Children will be able to make their own insect fossils from plastercine and then use these for printing patterns. Many of the objects in the gallery are patterned. Children can find these objects using the new Explorer Map, which also includes colouring activities and puzzles.

“We welcome families at the Sainsbury Centre and always have free resources available to help them make the most of their visit. These include our ‘explorer suitcases’, ‘find and draw gallery trails’ and ‘collection stories’ to borrow and read in the gallery. Our busy programme includes lots of family friendly events such as First Sundays and pre-school Mini-Studios, and specials such as the ever-popular Family Fun Day on Sunday 26 July”
– Nik Khandpur, Head of Public Services at the Sainsbury Centre.