GOMA in Brisbane | A fantastic place for kids and here’s why!
GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) or as it’s now officially known QAGOMA in Brisbane’s beautiful South Bank precinct is the perfect destination for families with children of all ages.
If you’re looking for an easily accessible, free, stimulating, and enjoyable place for your family to spend a day you’ve just found it!
Immerse the family in creativity at the Children’s Art Centre or, for older kids, view the best in international film and video at the Australian Cinematheque. There is always plenty to see, do, and experience!
What is GOMA?
GOMA is one of the most dynamic, innovative and exciting cultural and art spaces in Brisbane. Paired with the Queensland Art Gallery, it is located across two riverside buildings. The galleries present evolving programs of Australian and international exhibitions with a focus on contemporary art from Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Where is GOMA, exactly?
The cultural precinct begins at The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and then moves north past the Sciencentre, Museum (with its famous Whale Mall), Queensland Art Gallery, State Library of Queensland, and then GOMA at the end. Clear signage will direct you between venues and there are plenty of shaded rest stops if required. Lifts and ramps abound so pram, stroller, and wheelchair users will find their needs well catered for.
How do I get to GOMA?
If traveling by bus, there is a bus station in between the Museum and QPAC called South Bank busway station. Catching the train more your style? Ensure that you disembark at South Brisbane, not South Bank, for the cultural precinct. If you get off at South Bank you’ll have quite a distance to walk which could be an issue with little ones.
There are many secure parking options in the area but check your maps prior to driving in – many of the streets are one way and can be confusing for a first-timer. Think smart and book your spot in advance (click here) to ensure you pay a discounted rate. Ticket inspectors regularly patrol the South Bank area so make sure you’re not caught out!
What’s else should I know about?
Planning a big outing, especially when you have got little kids, can be daunting but we’ve got you covered. GOMA is fully accessible for wheelchairs and prams. A cloakroom is available upon entry for bulkier items but staff will permit you to keep your nappy bags and pram with you if you prefer. The GOMA Children’s Art Centre has a pram storage bay so you can have your hands free to join in on the fun. The air-conditioned climate is perfect for baby-wearing without getting hot and sweaty – you’ll most likely find your littlest ones quickly drift off to sleep in the cool, calm environment so you can focus on the exhibits.
There are a number of different bathrooms across different levels. All parent’s rooms are well-equipped with change mats, chairs, and heating facilities. GOMA was designed with families in mind and the enjoyment and comfort of your family is a vital part of the experience.
Plenty of places to eat
GOMA Café Bistro, on the bottom garden level, is perfect for family or large groups. A huge outdoor dining area with a beautiful view of the river complements a menu ranging from breakfasts to burgers to brownies. Upstairs in GOMA restaurant you’ll find a two-hatted dining experience that might be better suited to an adults-only outing.
What’s on at the moment at GOMA?
(Please note – we leave exhibits here as a living record of all the cool stuff GOMA puts on for kids! Some of these exhibits may no longer be installed)
QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre
QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre works with artists to create interactive installations, artist projects and activities for kids and families.
Art Starters is a free program for babies 4– 12 months and their parents and carers. Together kids can explore select works through an engaging walking tour and a multi-sensory interactive play session.
Art Play Date is a self-directed program engaging children aged 1-3 years through movement, song and sensory play, inspired by key artworks.
Art Explorers uses games, music and making activities to engage children aged 3-5 years with art. Children can now engage with the Art Explorers program from home through a series of interactive videos.
The Gifting Tree | Until 17 October 2021
The Gifting Tree’ brings together the work of Sonia Chitrakar, Archana Kumari and Kamta Tahed, three contemporary Indian artists who use bright colours, pattern and storytelling in different ways. Each artist has created a painting or drawing that references the importance of trees in supporting life. ‘The Gifting Tree’ refers to a divine, life-giving tree otherwise known as Kalpavriksha, which appears in many religions and stories throughout India.
Children can reflect on their own experiences of trees through two hands-on activities. Taking inspiration from the artists’ work, children are invited to draw a picture about the importance of planting trees and add their response to a cumulative display in the exhibition space. Children can also make a drawing of a problem-solving fantasy tree.
This is a FREE activity with no bookings required. General admission to QAGOMA is also FREE however you will have to pay to enter some special exhibitions.
European Masterpieces | Until 17 October 2021
Spanning 500 years, ‘European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’ offers a breath-taking journey from the 1420s and emerging Renaissance to conclude at the height of early twentieth century post-impressionism.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Brisbane families at QAGOMA allows you to experience works by painters such as Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh and Monet, direct from The Met’s collection – one of the finest collections of European painting in the world, the majority of which rarely leave permanent display in New York. Find out more here.
Roy & Matilda Australian Art Collection | Permanent | Free entry at Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Galleries
Discover paintings by artists in the Australian Art Collection with Roy and Matilda, two friendly mice who love art galleries and live behind a tiny door in the Queensland Art Gallery. The mice visit artworks and create an adventure in ‘Roy and Matilda: The Mysterious Music ’. Focus artworks can be used in conjunction with the publication to complement before, during, or after-the-visit to support engagement. You can also create your own artwork guide with ‘My Collection’.
Kids Trail – Australian Art Collection | Permanent | Free entry at Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Galleries
From the earliest rock paintings to contemporary works, animals have featured in art for thousands of years. For many artists, animals are subjects that allow them to share ideas and experiences. In this trail activity, you can discover a wild and wonderful menagerie of animals hiding in the Australian Art Collection.
Previous QAGOMA Exhibitions for kids
Now is the Time | 7 August 2020 to 1 August 2021 | Free entry at the Children’s Art Centre
Raquel Ormella invites children to speak up about climate change and the environment in her exhibition Now is the Time at the Children’s Art Centre. Raquel highlights Australia’s long history of environmental activism with a timeline featuring historical photos and posters. The exhibition also includes two videos made in collaboration with Junction Park State School students. In these videos, the students perform protest songs and share their views about climate action with the artist. In the exhibition space, children can design a protest t-shirt and watch their message come to life in an animated protest scene, while listening to a playlist of protest music.
The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire | 28 November 2020 – 26 April 2021
This world-exclusive exhibition, only in Brisbane, showcases the art, design, and history of one of the most iconic objects of the last 150 years, the motorcycle.
Featuring more than 100 innovative and influential motorcycles from the 1860s to the present day. Highlights of the exhibition include an 1871 Perreaux, the first steam-powered velocipede and oldest known motorcycle in the world. Plus the earliest Australian-designed and built machines, including a Spencer produced in Brisbane in 1906. Tickets required for this event. Find out more here.
Ross Manning: Idling Engines | 28 November 2020 – 26 April 2021
Ross Manning is an Australian artist who has always been fascinated by science and how things work. Through his art, he explores the relationship between humans and technology and often works with light and sound.
For this exhibition, Ross has created the sound work Idling Engines 2020, which responds to movement. This installation includes a number of small motors that have been attached to cables hanging from the ceiling. Ross has positioned the motors so that when triggered they send vibrations up and down the cables. The vibrations shake an assortment of simple materials that have been clipped onto the cables – producing a variety of sounds.
Island Fashion (10th August 2019 to 15th March 2020, free entry at the Children’s Art Centre)
Visit the Children’s Art Centre to explore fashion and adornment through creative hands-on and multimedia activities created by artists from Australia and the Pacific especially for children and families. Join in a paper folding activity by Grace Lillian Lee, design your own textile pattern in a multimedia interactive by Letila Mitchell, and create a wearable accessory inspired by the work of Maryann Talia Pau and Ranu James.
Ben Quilty – Family Portrait (15th Jun 2019 to 20th October 2019, free entry at the Children’s Art Centre)
As part of the major exhibition ‘Quilty’, Brisbane’s Children’s Art Centre presents ‘Ben Quilty: Family Portrait’.
In this interactive exhibition, leading Australian artist Ben Quilty encourages children and families to explore the art of portraiture in an artist studio setting. The exhibition also stars Ben’s children – Joe and Olivia – who appear in a video on display, which takes children inside Ben’s studio in New South Wales and provides insights into his approach to making art.
As part of ‘Family Portrait’, you can draw a portrait of a family member or a friend following an instructional video with tips from Olivia, play with colour and distortion to create a digital self-portrait, and experience Ben’s work in a new way through painting replicas that you can touch.
Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art – For Kids!
Children’s trial for Gary Carsley ‘Purple Reign’ 2018
(Running 24 November 2018 to June – Free Entry for all!)
(Purple Reign from 6 October 2018 to June 2019)
APT9 is coming to town. This joyous celebration of colour and light will expand to include artworks especially for kids. They’re interactive and hands-on and come complete with multimedia activities. There are 8 interactive artworks that are designed specifically for children and families. This is an incredible participatory experience that’s reflective of themes of the main exhibition – contemporary art in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. It would be well worth your while touring the rest of the exhibition as well – whenever this comes to town, it’s always a wonder to behold!
Children’s trial for Nona Garcia ‘Illuminate’ 2018
The APT9 Kids projects are displayed in spaces across both the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) buildings, including the Children’s Art Centre at GOMA. This project aims to involve the youngest visitors to the gallery (and their families) to creatively engage with the ideas on shows both in the Children’s Art Centre and the other gallery sites.
Vincent Namatjira, Western Arrernte people, ‘The Queen and Me’ 2017
25th May 2019 – 2 Feb 2020
‘Geometries’ brings together works that dazzle the eyes with colour and form. Using deceptively simple strategies — structuring relationships between the most elementary components of shape, scale and relative sequencing, for the most part described in pure, flat and vibrant colours — the artists behind these arrangements excel in creating mesmerising optical effects.
Tony Albert: We Can Be Heroes
(Running 19 May – 7 October 2018)
In collaboration with the Children’s Art Centre, this exhibit explores how our fears can empower and strengthen us, rather than overcome us.
The children and artists of the Warakurna have developed a series of artworks for this display including photographs and illuminated paintings. Children can create their own digital superhero identities, create monster collages and bring creatures to life!
Patricia Piccinini: Curious Creatures
(Running 24 March 2018 – 5 August 2018)
This exhibit is specifically designed for children aged 8 and under. They are invited to participate in imaginative play while they come across curious, strange, wonderful creatures who live in a burrow-like environment. There is lots of potential for interaction and wonder as the children get up close and personal with these soft creatures. They can move them around, manipulate them, play with them and let their imaginations run wild!
Me, Myselfie and I
(Running 9 Dec 2017 – 22 April 2018)
These are interactive, multimedia art projects where children are challenged to create their own self-portraits.
From GOMA: “In recent times, self-representation has become more complex and varied through the use of digital technologies. The exhibition explores what a self-portrait is and how it can express our emotions, personality, memories and experiences through images, sound, spoken word and movement.” Find out more here.
Yayoi Kusama – The Obliteration Room
(Running 14 Oct 2017 – 4 Feb 2018)
This is one of our ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE exhibits and it’s back again! The Obliteration Room was originally a blank canvas where participants are invited to apply coloured sticky dots to any surface they wish. This creates a living community art space and it’s an absolute delight for kids! Definitely a must-see!
Kate Beynon: Friendly Beasts
(Running 1 April 2017 – 22 Oct 2017)
Kate Beynon draws on multiple visual traditions as the foundation for her artworks, including Western and Eastern comic books, mythology, animation, film, graffiti, calligraphy and fashion.
Sugar spin: You, Me, Art and Everything
(Running 3 December 2016 until 17 April 2017). 250 artworks exploring light, space, architecture and the senses. See Nervescape V 2016 by Shoppy (a landscape made of synthetic hair) or Heard 2012 (a group of vibrant sculptural horses brought to life by dancers)
Left/Right Slide (2010)
The awesome GOMA Slide will send you flying from the top floor right down to the bottom! You’ll need to be 1.2 metres to ride though… read more about it when we visited – click here.
In bed (2005)
Ron Mueck’s world-famous over-sized woman
Gabori Sisters: Gathering by the sea
‘The Gabori Sisters: Gathering by the Sea’ takes children on a journey to the artists’ homeland of Bentinck Island in Queensland. Young visitors will be introduced to the important relationship the Kaiadilt people share with the sea and its creatures.
Children can create their own extraordinary paper hairstyles and help style a wall of artificial hair-like material.
Is there anything else I should know?
GOMA opens daily from 10am – 5pm. Entry is free but certain exhibitions may sometimes require a special entry fee. GOMA is signed very clearly and staff will be happy to help you if required. For more information, including maps, visit QAGOMA.
Make the most of your day out and see what the rest of South Bank has to offer. Countless food and drink options, beautiful gardens, innovative play options, and the always fun Streets Beach await. Brisbane is so lucky to have the kinds of public facilities that people in other cities could only dream of. So get out there and let your kids experience it all!
If you’re looking for school holiday inspo check out our guide to the BEST school holiday activities in Brisbane here.