The Little Grand Tour and the importance of educating children in art
Isabel Lamb is the founder of 'The Little Grand Tour', a company that organizes guided tours in different museums and galleries in London for children from 6 years, with the mission of promoting art among children and show that learning art can also be fun. She has become our new guest curator and has prepared this selection with her favourite works.
You founded The Little Grand Tour in 2010 aiming to introduce children to art by organizing exhibition tours to galleries and museums. How did you come up with the idea of engaging children with art?
I started my company 10 years ago when I first became a parent myself and I saw potential in what I had to offer parents and children, in guiding them through a gallery space which can sometimes feel overwhelming if you don't know when to start. I feel passionately that arts education is key for all children’s development. Coming from an artistic family (my mother is an artist and my sisters are all creative in their own ways, musically and artistically) I have always been surrounded with a love of art and having that intrinsic to my daily life feels natural to me,and which I want to pass onto children, including my own. I have always loved art, feeling most at home in a gallery and always gravitate towards them when travelling or in a new city. I studied Art History for my degree and I pretty much lived in museums and galleries throughout my childhood, teens and at university. I saw a gap in the market when I was 24 years old and decided I wanted to engage children in smaller groups, intimate discussion, honing in on only a few images during one tour. Another aspect is that parents don’t (usually) join us leaving them free to enjoy art at their pace and some precious ‘me’ time while the children have the freedom to engage on a different level. Although we do offer family tours if desired
What is the main goal of the Little Grand Tour?
The Main goal is to educate and inspire as many children as possible which can complement school learning and enhance the way they look at art, nature, literature, music and so on. I would love to incorporate more music (e.g. Debussy & Monet) to the gallery visits on iPods or similar which works well with awakening all senses when looking at works of art. I would also love to start a charitable element one day offering free visits to more children, spreading the opportunity further afield.
How do your tours work? Do you carry out any activities during the visit?
The key is small groups (max 8 children with 1 tutor: 4 kids ratio), 3 or 4 works of art, immersive engagement, questions and answers and the also important cafe and shop visit too. The maximum a child can be in a gallery for is an hour (ages 7-12) and this is often the case for adults too! At the cafe we have worksheets and we draw and write poems and this helps us go over what we have learnt in the previous hour in the gallery and gives the child a chance to create, after looking at creations by famous artists themselves.
In what ways can children benefit from encountering themselves with artworks at such a young age?
The Little Grand Tour is passionate about art and helping children develop an appreciation of culture early on in their lives. Starting gallery and museum trips at a young age develops both a positive attitude to learning and helps nurture the creativity that we passionately believe each child has.
We tailor tours specifically to the needs of children ensuring there is a mix of listening, interaction and knowledge gathering. Above all, we want your children to have an experience that shows them learning can be fun.
What exhibitions would you recommend visiting with children this season?
We are very excited for Van Gogh at Tate Britain (opens March), Pierre Bonnard at Tate Modern (on now), the National Portrait Gallery permanent collection is wonderful and also the new Sorolla show at National Gallery is sure to be wonderful (March) and Olafur Eliasson is coming to Tate Modern this summer too!
A book All the Light we Cannot See
A destination Paris or Rome (can't choose!)
A memory ...of my first time I fell in love with an artist? Odilon Redon at Musee d'Orsay aged 17.
A flavour anything with chocolate
Your mantra “Nothing great is ever achieved without enduring much.” St. Catherine of Siena
And in your case, an artwork so difficult! One to own, I love modern British Art so Edward Bawden or Christopher Wood. To admire, anything by Rodin.