GOMA Summer Festival For Families 2016/17

The Gallery of Modern Art is turning 10, which is significant for families of Brisbane because it is an opportunity to highlight all the things we think you should see over the Summer holidays at GOMA. It is full to the brim of free, family friendly art activities designed to bring out the child in all of us!

The art begins outside GOMA

As you enter the main entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art you will notice to your right a huge bronze sculpture that looks to be a fishing net. This wonderful piece of art is a reminder of the Aboriginal presence in Brisbane. The artist, Judy Watson modeled the piece using historical works from the Queensland Museum to ensure the result was true to its representation. It is quite incredible and humbling to stand and view the sculpture, Brisbane River in the background, knowing that Aboriginal people once hunted where you are now standing. I imagine this could spark quite a conversation about Australian history with your Brisbane Kid. You can read about the historical significance of the land GOMA sits on here.

There are many exhibitions for the 10th birthday celebration of GOMA, which while impressive, are extremely fragile, and so parents will need to guide their own choices as to whether to take their littlest kids into those particular spaces. The gallery has made it easy to navigate to the children’s areas and there are staff aplenty to further guide you. For tweens and teens, the more mature exhibitions represent the opportunity to discuss the abstract, to ask your almost adult children what they think it all means, and then read the artist meaning once discussed.

This post is designed to give you a rundown on everything that is at GOMA right now –

Mirror Mirror

Artist: Hrafnhildur Arnardottir. Open 19 Nov- 17 April 2017. Level 1, above the Children’s Art Centre. FREE.

mirror mirror goma

I sat in this space for about 30 minutes trying to get my camera to work and during this time it became flooded with kids of all ages, from toddlers to school age. The room features hair of different paper textiles that bursts from holes in the wall and I watched boys and girls delighted in this weird opportunity to plait and play with this unique art. The laughter and chatter was more like an energy than a voice, with the kids clearly inspired by the whole space. Activity spaces invite creativity with ready to go collage materials so kids can make their own hairstyles using different types of paper materials.

Enchanted Spaces

Artist: Nusra Latif Qureshi. Open 3rd Dec 2016-17 April 2017. Level 3, outside the Research Library. FREE.

enchanted spaces goma

Kids can be introduced to Mughal miniature painting, which is an invitation to work with animal and floral motifs to create their own personalised drawing.

The Gabori Sisters: Gathering By The Sea

Artist: Sally Gabori (Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda) 25th June- 12th Feb 2017. The Children’s Art Centre. FREE.

The Gabori Sisters

We have an detailed explanation of this child friendly exhibition with a Gabori Sisters Review, but in summary it is a drop in creative space where kids and their families can collage and choose totem animals for themselves.

During January 2017 (21st – 22nd) there will also be a drop in workshop where kids can create colour plasticine dolls inspired by the toys the Gabori sisters made in their childhood out of natural materials.

Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything

Left/Right Slide (2010)

Artist: Carsten Holler

steel goma slide

As you enter the doors of GOMA, prepare for your kids to notice the big steel slide that occupies the main foyer area. It is a double slide that looks very different depending on where you stand in the room. While I was there I noticed 2 very serious professionals take to the slide with abandon, which is hilarious to watch.

Heard (2012)

Artist: Nick Cave

heard goma

Part of the Sugar Spin installation, this is an exhibition that is incredibly exciting to the sense and you will find yourself wanting to look at every single horse like structure, each seeming to carry it’s own energy. This is one room and the kids cant touch or ride the horses (obviously) but it isn’t a space that you couldn’t take kids either.


Artist: Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir a.k.a. Shoplifter

sugar walls goma

Trying to capture the enormity of this on camera is impossible and while your kids will try and climb on it, they can’t so good luck with that hahaha but many kids were standing staring in awe at what can only be described as psychedelic fairy floss both covering the walls and at one point forming a corridor to move through. Very exciting to look at.

Oversized In bed

Artist: Ron Mueck

oversized in bed

Your kids will find this the most incredible piece of art. Expect lots of oohs and ahhs – almost like Jack and the Beanstalk type experience. So real and yet not!

The cubic structural evolution project AKA lego 

Artist: Olafur Eliasson

lego art goma

Imagine a 20 metre table filled with white Lego, some buildings already built – an invitation to build while looking over the Brisbane River and city landscape.

Pix-Cell Double Deer #4 (2010)

deer glass in installation goma

This is not a child friendly exhibition, but tweens and teens will appreciate it and I personally was overwhelmed by the crispness of this glass bubbled deer and the expanse of white around it. The lady at the door who seemed to be guarding the exhibition agreed with me that it feels like you are walking on egg shells as you walk in, just because you can see how easily this majestic creation could come crashing down. Spectacular and ironically solitary.

There are so many different exhibitions on between now and the end of the Summer holidays that I would be putting aside a couple of days to make the most of it. Relish in the creative inspiration this place affords your children because it is at places like the Gallery of Modern Art that memory making moments are made and then extended by conversation and inspired activities at home. To find out more search “GOMA” on our website.

You will also find a number of workshops on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of Jan 2017 at GOMA (some starting before) – you can also find them on our Event Calendar.

How to get to GOMA Brisbane

The Gallery of Modern Art is right next to the State Library, which is next to the Queensland Museum and only a short walk from South Bank Parklands. You can park underneath the State Library or the Museum (though the museum is the one more likely to have spare parks on the holidays). If you want to check out the whole of South Brisbane you should read our guide to parking at South Bank. There are plenty of green spaces to picnic if you pack a lunch, with a number of cafes if you prefer to eat out (either by the State Library shop or next the QLD Museum).

dinosaur art goma

Note: If you do enter GOMA with a nappy bag or backpack you may be asked to place it in the cloakroom. This is standard practice, it’s free, so please don’t be offended. The cloakroom is located at the entrance and it’s a super simple process. You will see by looking at some of the artworks in this article and understand why they prefer to keep big bulky bags away from their pieces.

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