By Kerry Law
In between the baby sensory/rhyme time/soft play loop that comes with looking after preschool children, we all crave doing something a bit more grown-up. The Whitechapel Gallery in East London has a good idea: during every run of their major art exhibitions, the gallery holds Crib Notes—a curator-led tour of the show especially for adults with children under 4. Yes, this is your chance to do something cerebral and sophisticated while your baby enjoys the hushed tones of the gallery and is gently lulled to sleep in the carrier. Or rather, spends the two hours crying while your toddler runs around in circles, singing.
Whichever it is, you’re in friendly and understanding company as the tour starts an hour before the gallery is open to the general public—parents and little ones have the place to themselves. After the tour, there’s a chance to enjoy refreshment and chat to other art-loving adults.
The next Crib Notes event is on 14th March, from 10am to 12pm, when Assistant Curator Candy Stobbs will take parents, babies and kids around the new exhibition Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World. Already receiving rave reviews, the show features sculptures, drawings and installations by this American artist exploring the natural world through the lens of scientific exploration and museum display.
Even outside of a Crib Notes tour, the Whitechapel Gallery itself is worth a visit, particularly with little babies as it is super-accessible throughout. A quiet stroll around the free displays can end with a light lunch or coffee and delicious-looking cake in the Whitechapel Refectory. (The café does tend to get busy with local office workers around lunchtime, but on an off-peak visit you can usually find space for a buggy and a quiet corner to feed your baby.) Before you leave, check out the gallery’s comprehensive bookshop, which has a small section of art and art-related children’s books.
Tickets for Crib Notes are free with exhibition entry, which costs £12.95 (concessions available) for Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World. Booking is essential.
The Whitechapel Gallery is open daily except Mondays, 11am to 6pm, with late-night opening until 9pm on Thursdays. General entry to the galleries (excluding the main exhibition) is free.
For more information and online booking for Crib Notes, visit www.whitechapelgallery.org.