Craft supplies on a table, children's hands can be seen cutting and sticking.

Families at the Barber

A room filled with children and people of all ages, some sitting and taking part in crafts, others standing and talking.

The Barber offers a range of activities for families to enjoy during their visit including a programme of creative events, as well an art trolley including free interactive resources and play objects to borrow and explore, housed in our foyer – find out more below.

Baby-changing facilities and buggy parking space are available on the ground floor, as well as lift access to all floors.

Please Note: All Barber galleries will close on 2 October 2023, remaining closed until 22 June 2024 as we begin the first phase of a building improvement project.

Upcoming Events:

Barber Family Workshop with Karoline Rerrie

Saturday 13 July, 10 – 12 noon 

£3, booking essential  

Collaborate with artists and create as a family at our Saturday Family workshops. Perfect for 6-12 year olds, these activities are designed to get in depth into current exhibitions, learn new skills and have a space to make your own artwork.  

Create your own coin design Press Print inspired by powerful women and coins from our coin exhibition, Women in Power. Experiment with colour and texture as you explore the possibilities of printmaking. 

£3 per child, accompanying adult to come free. 

Karoline Rerrie - Press Print Coins Portrait 300dpi

Barber Family Festival

Saturday 3 August – Sunday 11 August 

Connect with art through nature and play. This August families are taking over the Barber for our second Family Festival! Come along to a drop-in session in our outdoor area, explore the building and galleries equipped with resources available in the foyer, including our Art Trolley.

Help us re-imagine our spaces and enjoy open-ended creativity and discovery this summer, all inspired by our current exhibition Hidden Lives of Plants: Botanical Illustrations from the V&A. 

Explore the programme below. More events to be announced!

Please note our Barber Family Festival is all free and drop in apart from  *Seed Structures with Woodland Tribe, where booking is essential.

Riso Printing with Juneau Projects


Saturday 3 August, 11 – 3pm

Sunday 4 August, 11 – 3pm 

Free, drop-in  

Be inspired by the diverse shapes and forms of plants as you create vibrant Risograph Prints with the artist duo Juneau Projects. Draw and collage fantastic botanical designs, which will be turned into “digital screen prints”. Work together to create a growing collage of your designs, building up a colourful landscape around us over two days. 

Froglife Stall 


Sunday 4 August, 11 – 3pm 

Free, drop-in  

Meet the team at Froglife and learn all about the UK’s reptile and amphibian species and their habitats. Froglife is a national wildlife charity committed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles – frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards – and saving the habitats they depend on.

Beautiful Botanicals


Tuesday 6 August, 11 – 3pm 

Free, drop-in  

Explore plant forms, imagining and constructing your own hybrid creations using all kinds of scrap materials. Re-invent works from the galleries or let your imagination run wild and design completely new extraordinary structures as a family, experimenting with shape, form and texture. Either take your constructions home or transform our spectacular garden landscape. This family drop-in will be led by a member of our friendly Learning and  Engagement Team. 

Weave Through the Landscape with Ruth Turnbull


Wednesday 7 August, 11 – 3pm 

Free, drop-in 

Join artist Ruth Turnbull for relaxed and open-ended exploration of recycled and natural materials. Help us re-imagine our outdoor space by weaving and wrapping textiles, herbs and flowers. Experiment with texture and scent by creating your own plant posies and potions.   

Colour Box: Wildlife Wonders with Flatpack

Family Festival - flatpack

Thursday 8 August, 11 – 3pm

Free, drop-in  

Flatpack Project's Colour Box crew are with us for a day of film, light & shadow play, projector-making, and more. Discover how the projected image works by making your own DIY beamer from a toilet roll and a torch, create your own insect-themed shadow-puppet-show using an OHP, and make your own art print using paint, fruit, and vegetables. Flatpack have curated a brilliant selection of environmentally-themed short films that will play throughout the day including the  wonderful What's up with the Sky?- recent Colour Box Award winner, Flatpack Festival 2024.

Seed Structures with Woodland Tribe


Friday 9 August, Saturday 10 August, Sunday 11 August, 75-minute sessions.  

Free, booking essential* 

 Woodland Tribe are back at the Barber this summer to construct another extraordinary play space! Families are invited to co-create a new structure in our outdoor space, inspired by the millions of forms of plants and seedpods. Children will become engineers as they imagine and build with real tools and huge quantities of recycled wood. Will you create botanical bridges, petal platforms, or seedpod seating? Or make a mini creation of your own? 

Please note that this activity is limited capacity and will be capped at one activity session per family. Please be mindful when signing up, block bookings across multiple sessions will not be accepted.

Bookings to open in July 2024.  

Art Trolley

Look out for our new Art Trolley in the foyer. Borrow looking tools, handling objects and drawing materials to explore the galleries and create artworks.

All resources in the Art Trolley link to our collection displays and contains activities, objects and books related to the artworks. Enjoy drawing in the galleries, look at the artworks in new ways, feel objects and materials connected to artworks, or sit and read together.

The stations are designed to be suitable for all ages, and are available every Tuesday – Sunday.

A child sitting on a green mat crafting something.

Explore the Archive


Summer Holiday 2023 - Barber Family Festival

In August 2023 families took over the Barber! We re-imagined our spaces, enjoying nature-inspired creativity and play.

From building a scrap sculpture garden, enjoying a family cinema with Flatpack and weaving wonders with artist Ruth Turnbull, to meeting intergalactic insects with Cloud Cuckoo Land and printing abstract forms from nature. The Woodland Tribe returned, helping families to construct a caterpillar play structure using wood and real tools.

Nature's Palette Session 1 - 29.06.23 (C) (22)

Pre-schooler Mornings with Georgina Barney

Led by artist Georgina Barney, families with pre-schoolers have enjoyed playing and experimenting with natural dyeing processes.

Most recently we unlocked secrets of colour in the collection, exploring pre-industrial methods. These workshops centre around the vibrant creativity and curiosity of very young children. We aim to create a nurturing, playful environment that helps build relationships for children, and for their adults.

This event took place in June - July 2023.

An adult helps a child with a creative activity

Family Saturday Workshops

Exploring nature in the collection, families enjoyed a series of artist-led workshops across summer 2023.

Sam Krankpod led a clay workshop, with families sculpting and decorating miniature insects. Families got experimental with Fiona Cullinan, collaging their own hybrid beasts inspired by animals at the Barber. We created memories of our gallery visit, as Mengxia Liu led a bag and badge design workshop.

These events took place May - July 2023

At Home

Our collection...your place. Projects to do from your kitchen table.

images from sarah (1)

Zine-making with Sarah Taylor Silverwood

Inspired by Adriaen van Ostade’s drawing The Child and The Doll, join artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood to make a zine and reflect on time spent with your family, whoever and wherever they may be.

Explore this zine-making resource

Jo Gane camera obscura

Create a Camera Obscura with Jo Gane

Explore our online exhibition Sights of Wonder by learning more about the Victorian photography of Francis Bedford. Bedford was the first photographer to ever accompany a royal tour. He photographed temples, pyramids, and people along the way.

Discover this camera obscura resource

Benny Semp St Ives

St Ives Scrap Sculptures with Benny Semp

Inspired by our previous temporary exhibition Cornwall as Crucible?

Learn about the materials and techniques used by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, turning household scrap into amazing sculptures!

Try your hand at creating a scrap sculpture