Art Studios for Kids in the Bay Area

Nurture your child’s creativity – and keep the glitter out of your own carpet – at one of the many places in the Bay Area that make it easy to drop in and do art. Several sites have the opportunity to work with a visiting artist, and some museums combine art making with exhibit tours geared for families. 

East Bay


Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA). This small but mighty Oakland institution offers drop-in studios for ages 18 months and up, with several art-making activities organized around a monthly theme. A teaching artist is on hand to assist. 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Thu., Fri. and Sat. $7 per person. 1625 Clay St., Oakland. 510-465-8770.


Sticky Art Lab. This Berkeley art studio is all about creativity and reuse. Drop in with the kids for Friday Family Lab from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. for the Coffee & Crafts Lab. Workshops are also offered. Ages 2 and up. $10 per person or $25 for three ($5 each additional person). 1682 University Ave., Berkeley. 510-981-1148.


Richmond Art Center. An East Bay institution, the center has offered a variety of classes and camps for youth for decades. Kids can explore media and techniques including paint, sculpture, printmaking and more. It also holds a number of free art-making events each year. Open Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 12-5 p.m. 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. 510-620-6772.




Bay Area Discovery Museum. Kids can literally paint the walls in the Art Studios at this family favorite museum. Regularly changing programming encourages visitors to explore different materials, tools and techniques. Kids can play on a tactile table with “bubber” and “flarp,” or participate in the artist of the month project. A second studio focuses on take-home projects and larger collaborative art. Drop-in workshops are also held with visiting artists. Museum is open Tue.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Included with admission of $13.95, $12.95 ages 6-12 months and seniors. The first Wed. of each month is FREE. 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. 415-339-3900.




Create, Mix and Mingle. Your child can create a masterpiece at this San Mateo art studio, where instructors lead participants through a step-by-step process to create a painting or other project. In addition to one-time projects for all ages (check calendar, prices vary), four-week classes for kids are offered on site and at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City. 1888 S. Norfolk St., San Mateo. 650-434-2781.


Laurel Street Arts. You can paint your own pottery, create a fused glass masterpiece or build a mosaic at this drop-in craft studio located in downtown San Carlos. It also offers camps, classes and party packages. Reservations requested for groups of six or more. Open Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 12 p.m.-5 p.m. You pay for your project plus the studio fee: $8 adults, $5 seniors and kids 14 and under. 733 Laurel St., San Carlos. 650-591-1005.


San Francisco


Asian Art Museum. First and third Sundays of the month are Family Fun Days, when special tours for kids are held from 10:30-11 a.m., followed by art-making and activities from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Family programming also takes place on Target First Free Sundays. Any day, families can pick up free explorer packs and art cards to make exploring the museum more interesting to kids. Museum admission: $15 adults, $10 ages 13-17, 12 and under FREE. 200 Larkin St. 415-581-3500.


de Young Museum. Observing art is just the start at the de Young, which also offers plenty of opportunity for hands-on art making, from all-ages Fright Nights programs to Free Saturday Classes for ages 4-12, in which family tours are followed by studio workshops taught by professional artists. (Free with admission and available most Saturdays on a first-come, first-served basis.) The museum also offers after-school classes, summer art camps and an artist studio for families, in which artists in residence interact with families at a changing installation in the Kimball Education Gallery. Museum open Tue., Wed., Thu., Sat. and Sun., 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m.-8:45 p.m. Museum admission: $10 adults, $6 ages 13-17, 12 and under FREE. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park. 415-750-3600.


Contemporary Jewish Museum. Families can explore art with a visiting artist on Sundays and select school holidays at the Drop-in Art Studio. Themes change regularly. Museum open Mon., Tue., Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thu.,11 a.m.-8 p.m. FREE with museum admission of $12 adults, 18 and under FREE. 736 Mission St. 415-655-7881.


Silicon Valley

The Art Loft at the Children’s Discovery Museum. There’s something new every month in the Art Loft, where children can explore a variety of media – from paint to collage to sculpture – and participate in hands-on workshops with visiting artists. Families can also explore the Art Gallery, featuring works by children and youth, adult artists who work with children or explore topics relevant to children and families. Museum open Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 12-5 p.m. Included with admission of $13, infants under 1 FREE. 408-298-5437. 180 Woz Way, San Jose.


Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Every Sunday is Family Sunday, when docents lead family tours and family members can experiment with art materials and new techniques in studio art-making in 30-minute sessions starting at 1, 1:30, 2 and 2:30 p.m. Encourage your children to sketch the masterpieces by checking out an art pack stocked with colored pencils and papers, available from 12:30-3 p.m. on Sundays at the welcome table, or from the lobby desk whenever the museum is open. (Family Films replace tours and art making during the holidays.) FREE. 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford. 650-723-4177.


 Janine DeFao is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.


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