Isabel Lamb: Why I Founded The Little Grand Tour

Isabel's amazing company, The Little Grand Tour, takes young children on tours of exhibitions, instilling in them an early appreciation of art. Here she explains why it is so beneficial for little ones...

Nine years ago I set up the Little Grand Tour, introducing school aged children to the wonderful world of art.

The tutors and I are 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 unlock the creativity that we passionately believe each child has inside them. We hope our tours will not only encourage a love of art but also contribute towards school learning.

Above all, we want your children to have an experience that shows them all this can be fun. We look forward to meeting you and inspiring your children!

What is the inspiration behind the company?

I started it just after having my first baby aged 25. Expressing milk in the National Gallery loo mid-tour was one such memory which sums up that time in my life – juggling work and motherhood! Fast forward six years, another baby and a move to Rome in 2015 where we have lived for the last three years and I’m more certain than ever about the positive benefits of exposing children to culture early on.

I now have exactly the same aged children which The Little Grand Tour aims to inspire in our museum and gallery visits, which I find very helpful. Not only do I test activities or ideas out on them (my most ardent of fans!) but they also come along on some of the tours too.

Why is it so important for children to appreciate art?

In an age of digitalization, although we want to embrace it, there is now a sad lack of engagement with real and physical creativity, be it live music, live theatre and for me in particular, tangible art and sculpture.

But isn’t it a bit boring for little ones?

A friend of mine jokes about museum fatigue which makes me laugh as we all know that feeling. The enormity of seeing the right things in an allotted time especially with children in tow can be overwhelming. The Little Grand Tour tutors want to make that easier and more fulfilling.

We focus on just 3 works of art, with a café stop half way to keep concentration levels topped up. We take clipboards and a jam-packed pencil case for activities throughout the tour. We discuss, look, question, learn new facts about the artist and techniques, examine the historical context of paintings and more.

What about us parents?

While we tutor the children we either encourage parents to have a look around the gallery themselves or have a break in a local park and enjoy a good book (which as parents we all know is a rarity).

How do you maintain the children’s inspiration after the visit?

The children make friends and often come back on different tours together.

They take a passport home once they have completed a tour which they can bring back for their next one.

We are trying to include smaller museums and galleries into the mix as well, ones which many adults or children may not have experienced. For example, the Guildhall Art Gallery has an amphitheatre which lurks beneath their gracious art collection, the Garden Museum in Lambeth which has just been made into an incredible new space for learning (not to mention a fabulous new restaurant for parents to enjoy), the Sir John Soane museum, a gem of a collection hiding behind a townhouse in central London and so many more.

What are your top two exhibitions for children this summer?

Picasso at Tate Modern and Edward Bawden at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

  • For more information on the Little Grand Tour click here 
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