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Summer Shows: Top 5 for Families

Manolo Blahnik: An Enquiring Mind, Wallace Collection

Manolo Blahnik Wallace Collection Manolo Blahnik Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection is one of our absolute favourite museums in London and if you ever needed a reason to visit it, shoe maestro extraordinaire Manolo Blahnik has provided it. Dotted among the Gainsboroughs, the Reynolds, the gilt mirrors, the intricate clocks, the brocade chairs are glass domes containing pairs of the most beautiful shoes and boots imaginable.

Brilliantly curated, each complements the painting, piece of furniture, room in which it is placed perfectly. Anyone with a love of fashion, dressing up, Cinderella, dolls houses, delicate, beautiful things should put it to the top of their list. And, it is FREE. Hurrah!

To 1 Sept, free. Click here for details.

The Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts

Tiger Royal Academy Summer Exibition

After last year's colour-filled extravaganza from Grayson Perry, this year's show was perhaps always going to be a bit of a let down but Burlington House's annual presentation of the celebrated and unknown in the art world is nevertheless a good family outing. The carnival of animals in the first gallery has plenty of wow factor; throughout, we reckon kids will like the sculptures best. Highlights include the two environmentally-focussed rooms -  look out particularly for the sad looking polar bear and the parliament of muttering crows.

And make sure you get a catalogue to see which family members are best at price guessing. Family workshops for families with children of 7+ run at 11am on 24, 31 July and 2, 7, 9 Aug. Booking essential. Click here

To 12 Aug. Tickets: £18 adults, under 16s free. Click here to buy tickets.

Natalia Goncharova, Tate Modern

Goncharova Tate Modern goncharova tate modern

20th century Russian history and avant-garde Paris have a romantic allure for many of us, children included. Goncharova experienced both, in spades. A quite extraordinary output, from pre-Revolution scenes of the Russian countryside, to industrial modernism, to ballet costumes and sets for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes.

Goncharova's was a life lived and this show takes you through it, in all its vibrant variety. It's an extraordinary visual history lesson. 

To 8 Sept. Tickets: £16 adults, under 12s free, £5 ages 12–15. Click here to buy tickets. 

Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House

Get Up, Stand Up Now

We were wowed by this colour-filled celebration of how Caribbean and African culture has impacted British society since the Windrush generation first arrived.

Some elements are upsetting - there is a searing indictment of what it is to be a slave that you might want to avoid with children - but there is both serious stuff to learn and much that kids will instantly engage with, not least the music, many of the exhibits have accompanying soundtracks.

To 15 Sept. Tickets: £12.50 adults, £9.50 concessions, under 12s free. Click here to book. 

Other Recommended Shows

The annual BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery opens today. Always worth a look, there is perhaps less to immediately engage kids than in some years but it is, as ever, a fantastic selection of fantastic, strong contemporary portraits. A series of family workshops inspired by the Award run over the summer holidays.

To 20 Oct. Free. Click here for details. 

Round the corner in the National Gallery, give the new Bartolomé Bermejo a miss with kids (although there is a cheeky little dragon if early Renaissance is your thing); instead head to the Take One Picture display in the Sunley Room. Primary school children's responses to Joseph Wright of Derby's Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump in the Sunley Room are engaging, refreshing and enlightening.

To 11 Aug. Free. Click here for details.

We haven't made it to Lee Krasner at the Barbican or Frank Bowling at Tate Britain yet but we will be popping in with our junior reviewers this weekend so check back for their verdicts. And next week is open air Pavilion time. Dulwich is already up and running, the Serpentine follows next weekend. 

Gotta love this city!