Opportunities for Families

Participants showing off their finished landscapes in a plein-air workshop.

Frank Walker and Damien Shen's portrait drawing workshop.

A participant shows off her prompt at Madhavi Reddi's workshop.

Young Art Historians participants start their research with close observation.

Young Art Historians participants start their research with close observation.

Participants showing off their finished landscapes in a plein-air workshop.

Participants cut and construct card sculptures in Tony Albert's workshop.

Gerald Cournoyer leads a painting workshop.

Frank Walker leads a drawing workshop in the galleries.

Joey Stories at JMRL.

Tots and Dots.

Due to Covid 19 we have limited our offerings, but we are still a great destination for families. We always have scavenger hunts available at the front desk for children ages 3-12. You can also extend your visit to include our beautiful grounds with a tree ID handout from the front desk or by bringing a picnic and sitting at one of our tables in the back yard.

Under normal circumstances, we regularly offer classes and workshops to people of varying ages. We proudly offer the best toddler program in town, and we are passionate about giving high school students an opportunity to connect with the art in our collection.

Ordinarily, our interactive area includes a participatory art project available for people of all ages to reflect on the artworks on view, a touch station and related videos. During the summer, Night at the Museum offers another casual opportunity to experience the museum as a family and all that central Virginia has to offer in the way of music, food and libations.

To keep everyone safe, most of our programs have become virtual. Please see our calendar to learn about upcoming virtual programs.

Intergenerational Classes and Workshops

The museum typically offers at least three family workshops per year. Typically there is one in the summer, one in the fall and one in the spring. The focus and art activity of each workshop varies, and frequently they are taught by visiting Indigenous artists or local artists. The age range for these workshops varies depending on the topic and the sophistication of the activity, but usually they are open to wide range of ages. We also partner with local libraries and other organizations to offer family programs.

Workshops in the past have included:

  • plein-air painting with Annalee Jackson and Fenella Belle
  • portrait drawing with Damien Shen and Frank Walker
  • painting with ochres with Djambawa Marawili
  • pandanus weaving with Mrs. Gorriyindi
  • mask-making with Ricardo Idagi and Renee Balfour
  • sewing circles with Bianca Beetson
  • clay workshop with Janet Fieldhouse
  • tea-towel workshop with Carol McGregor
  • printmaking with Michael Kempson and Tess Allas

Tots and Dots

When it is safe to do so, we will resume our early visual literacy program for children aged six months to four years of age. It usually occurs on the first Tuesday of each month  (except January) at 9 am, 10 am and 11 am. The theme changes monthly.

According to early childhood development studies, infants and toddlers are attracted to high contrast visuals, bold images, and colorful objects, making Aboriginal art the perfect starting point for your toddler’s art education. This early visual literacy program features a brief tour focusing on basic elements of visual art, followed by an art activity for children aged two to four, while babies and caregivers enjoy social play with visually stimulating toys. Strollers and crying babies are welcome.

Note: We sometimes take photographs during this program. If you prefer that we don’t take photos of you or your child, please inform us when you check in. Tots and Dots is designed for families. Private tours are available for larger groups or preschools who wish to have a similar experience.

Preparing for College and a Career

In our summer program, Young Art Historians, high school juniors and seniors are invited to help the museum research artworks from the permanent collection about which very little is known. After students conduct research in the Library, working closely with museum staff, and write to scholars in Australia, they compile a comprehensive report about the object. This report is published on the museum’s website and when possible, the artworks studied are exhibited and participants are also asked to write the accompanying exhibition label text. This program builds college and career readiness skills of research and writing in a professional context, giving young students a behind-the-scenes insight into a museum career. To see what other students have accomplished, see our Research Archive.