Kid-Friendly Public Art in the Capital

by Yumi You know that feeling you get when you’ve discovered a hidden gem, something really fantastic that you want to share with others? I feel that way about public art. And I can’t wait to share some of my favourite pieces with my son.

Why should we explore public art with our kids? I can think of four reasons: it teaches them to observe what is around them, it introduces them to art in a really tangible way, it’s a great way to share the story of who we are and what we value as Canadians, and it can be a lot of fun!

I’m going to walk you through some of the most kid-friendly pieces of art in Ottawa and Gatineau. These are great places to stop with your kids and take a moment to let them explore. You can see where they are located on the Google map below.

Women are Persons Five amazing women are having a tea party, and you’re invited to join in! This monument tells the story of the Famous Five and their victory in the Persons Case, which led to Canadian women being allowed to sit in the Senate. Have a seat in the empty chair or help yourself to a cup of tea… kids will love the opportunity to be a part of the monument, and a part of the story that changed women’s rights in Canada.

Maman Ok, full disclosure: if you’re arachnophobic, this one might not be a good choice. But otherwise, how can you resist the 9 meter tall spider that lives outside the National Gallery of Canada?

Oscar Peterson Share a spot at the piano with Oscar Peterson. Kids will love “playing” the piano, and it’s a great opportunity to tell them about this Canadian musical genius who once said, “I admit gleefully to my two greatest weaknesses: the piano and children.” Bonus: Peterson’s music is always playing at his monument.

Never Give Up! (Maurice Richard) Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was always larger than life, and it’s true of his statue, too. While your young hockey fans check out his flashing eyes and determined face, you can tell them the story of how The Rocket battled prejudice and many injuries to become one of the best hockey players of all time.

National War Memorial This monument isn’t whimsical, but it’s one of the best places in the capital to teach your kids about remembrance and respect. There are lots of stories to share here – maybe about your own family, or about people you know. Or you can tell them that the two figures on top of the archway are called Peace and Liberty, and that the monument is for all the Canadians who have fought for those values.

Other Fun Examples Other fun pieces that kids will enjoy include the Dancing Bear (this bear is just begging you to dance with it), V.I.P. (let your movement set off this interactive sound sculpture), Papa (play in a rainbow of light!) and The Secret Bench of Knowledge (what is he whispering in her ear?).

View Kid-Friendly Public Art in Canada's Capital Region in a larger map

I also highly suggest either downloading or picking up a copy of Street Smart, a free guide to art on the streets in the capital. I actually like to keep one in my purse, because you never know when you’ll uncover a gem and want more information.

So, tell me, which pieces of public art do your kids love?

Yumi Webster (@yumikid) is a working mom who loves her job and her incredible son “Moe”. You can read about Moe’s adventures at, and about Yumi’s own adventures at Yumi has lived in Ottawa all her life.