Families at York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery are family-friendly and we aim to be as inclusive as possible.

We have areas in each exhibition space for our young visitors to enjoy which are available every day. There are also activities, events and workshops available throughout the year. Please click on the links below for further information.


Click here for online Visitor Information.


Facilities for Families

  • Fully accessible indoor and outdoor spaces (please find details here)
  • Activity areas to encourage playful and sensory learning, open daily
  • Drawing materials and sketchbooks available throughout the gallery
  • A dedicated Studio space available during local school holidays (please see below)
  • Handy ‘Just look’ and ‘Hands on’ labels on some of our artworks
  • Tactile materials and handling objects around the gallery
  • A free Artists Trail available from our Welcome Team
  • Online events listings so you can plan ahead
  • Baby changing facilities in the accessible toilets on both the ground and first floor
  • Spacious lockers for visitors to use on the first-floor


The Studio

The Studio is a practical workshop space where you can get hands on with art materials under the gentle guidance of our trained staff.

Drop-in activities especially suitable for families are on offer during local school holiday periods.

You can check whether the Studio will be open on any particular day on our Events page or by contacting us.


Arts Heroes Fact Sheets

Help students to find out more about artists whose work is on display in the gallery, with activity suggestions to extend students’ research and experience. Use these sheets on a gallery visit or in the classroom, to support the delivery of Arts Award Discover, Explore or Bronze.

Felicity Aylieff

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Sir Anthony van Dyck (please note there are currently no works by Sir Anthony van Dyck on display)

Sir Jacob Epstein

William Etty

Gwen John

Laurence Stephen Lowry

Paul Nash

Dame Lucie Rie

Paul Robeson


We offer a variety of opportunities for Pre-School, Primary, Secondary and Further Education.

  • Under 5s can explore our exhibitions and collections with our term-time Museum Monkey sessions – please see below for more information.
  • We offer school workshops designed for Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two pupils – please click here for more information.
  • We have free educational downloads available here designed for the Arts Award, though anyone is welcome to use them to enhance their visit.

York Art Gallery also host YARN (Yorkshire Art and Design Teachers Network) – click here for details.


Museum Monkeys

York Museums Trust provides a range of activities and events for children under 5 to help them engage with the collections and exhibitions. Sessions take place during term time at York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, or York Art Gallery.

Museum Baby (under two years old) – Fridays, 10am – 11am

Special baby sessions linked to exhibitions, including songs and sensory activities for babies and their carers. Sessions are a mixture of free flow and adult led activities which all relate to the early years Curriculum. A perfect introduction to museums!

Early Years Explorers (two – five years old) – Thursdays, 10am – 11am

Activities for children aged two to five years old which include songs, stories, games and craft activities. Sessions are based on familiar preschool play areas, which are enhanced to help children learn about the museum’ collections and exhibitions through play. Sessions are a mixture of free flow and adult led activities which all relate to the Early Years curriculum.

Charges and advance booking apply. Please click here to visit our Events page for full listings.

Teen Takeover

We want everyone to feel welcome and inspired by the gallery. We offer opportunities for older children and teenagers to get involved and discover their creative abilities.

  • Older children with an interest in art will find plenty of opportunities to engage with our exhibitions and collections, from our Vanitas drawing unit to our digital interactives.
  • We have regular talks to provide insight into our artworks and artists – perfect for GCSE and A-Level art students looking to expand their knowledge.
  • Teenage Art School – held annually during the summer, the art school offers young people aged 11 to 17 the chance to work with artists to create their own work and exhibition.


Kids in Museums Family Friendly Award 2016

York Art Gallery were awarded the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Award for 2016. Kids in Museums is an independent charity, working UK-wide to support museums to better welcome and include children, young people and families – in particular those who haven’t visited before.

Dea Birkett, Creative Director of Kids in Museums, said:

“We’re thrilled to announce York Art Gallery as the winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award. It was a tough year – with a ten-strong shortlist – so to shine out to families and children as the most welcoming is a great achievement.

“Our undercover family judges were particularly impressed at how the gallery aimed to make all ages feel welcome – from tiny babies to teenagers. There’s no typical family, so museums need to include all of them, whatever ages, whatever sizes. York Art Gallery excels at this.”

Click here to read more about our award.