Albany Art Room

I finally made it to the Albany Art Room!   I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I found out about it while working on my Big Ol’ List of Links.  Today we were planning on meeting W for lunch in downtown Albany with our out-of-town friends before saying goodbye to them, so it was the perfect opportunity to get a little artsy.

Basically, you pay $7 per hour per artist, and let the kids have at it.  The walls have different completed objects to provide you with inspiration, and the shelves are packed with paints and brushes and paper and fabric and play-doh and beads and pompoms and all sort of materials for projects. It’s great for anyone who wants to encourage a little creativity, and especially for those who are squeamish about having all that creativity splattered around their own house (although you know I don’t fall into this latter category:  W is still grumbling about the cooked egg that’s permanently adhered to our driveway).  Anyway, all four kids–we ranged from an 11-year-old to 5-year-old J–crafted happily for the full hour, and they could have stayed there another hour, easy.

Of course, there’s a small store and a few items that you have to purchase separately.  M wanted a little wooden doll (you can see hers in progress and a completed dolly below), and our oldest artist, Lizzie, painted on a real canvas.   Altogether I dropped a bit under $20 for two kids doing art for an hour each, plus two wooden items that the girls painted to bring home.  Now, you know I’m cheap, so this was a bit of a drag.  But it  didn’t give me quite the same yucky feeling that I’ve complained about at other pay-as-you go locations.   First, because it’s actual stuff that they’re purchasing to take home, and second, because I didn’t feel like I was being fleeced.  For example, when J immediately jumped on the lovely little wooden birdhouses that would have doubled my cost right then and there, Karen from the art room showed her the many other options, including the teensy treasure boxes which were  cheaper and more manageable for her attention span, anyway.

And herein lies the charm beyond the oodles of supplies available:  a friendly person to encourage and instruct your kids while still letting them do, pretty much, whatever.  You & the kids tidy up a bit, but any serious paint scrubbing is left to others.  You’re also more than welcome to help yourself to whatever you or your child needs to create their art.  So it’s a comfortable, casual atmosphere, but much more relaxing than the same projects would be if you tried to do them at home.  It seems like a good destination with friends so that the grown-ups can chat while the kids create.  Although there are enough cool-looking projects that you’ll be tempted to do some grown-up art as well.

J surveys her bead choices.

The Albany Art Room has memberships available as well as classes for kids and adults.  They also do birthday parties, and I ran into a reader who’d had a birthday party there, and she said that it was great.  There are even parties for grown-ups.  Seriously:  how’s this for a baby shower idea?  Everyone makes onesies together, or each guest makes a small canvas or frame with coordinating colors or stencils for the nursery?

Canvas, glitter & sequins.

They’ve got parking available (wish I’d noticed before I’d parked a block away), and there are sandwiches, wraps, or Mexican food very close by, making it an easy outing.  This is a bit pricey to become a weekly outing for us, but we’ll definitely be coming again.


  1. Erin

    My 3 children and I love the Art Room. There is a pottery studio in the back that is a great adult work space (kids are welcome too).

    Regarding the price, as a regular, the monthly membership is a fantastic deal. My 3 year old son and I spent many long winter days at the Art Room and his monthly membership ultimately meant we spent about $2/hour.
    I also end up getting most of my birthday presents in their store – avoiding a trip to the mall.

  2. Yeah, I think I might be a member if I were closer–it sounds like if it’s something you’re considering, you should at least chat Karen up about it. And man, do I love to avoid a trip to the mall!

  3. Anonymous

    What’s most impressive about the Albany Art Room is the service and the staff. The people there make the environment warm and welcoming, perfect for anybody who wants to make art. They are all artists and educators too, so they really know what they are taking about. It’s a great place, and makes Albany a better place to live for people not into the mall.

  4. Anne

    My family LOVEs the Albany Art Room. While we have a great time there with kids, it’s also great for grown ups. One of my favorite Art Room memories was a Mother’s Day visit making beaded necklaces with my mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

    My 4 1/2 year old would rather go to the Art Room that just about anywhere, and I think she’d really rather spend time with Karen than me! In addition to the basics of painting, beading, coloring, and collage, she’s experimented with print making, book making, splatter painting and sculpture. All things I certainly could do at home, but Karen makes it so easy! And while I love a mess at least as much (maybe more than) the average mom, Jackson Pollack style splatter painting is really something I shy away from at home.

  5. Victor

    My two kids, my wife and I are all big fans. We have memberships, and every time a friend or relative from out of town comes to visit, it’s one of the must-see places. I like to hear comments from NYC people we bring there about what a great value it is, how nothing in the City is quite like it. “Karen should open a franchise!” Also, although children (and their parents) are the most obvious beneficiaries, the AAR is a great resource for adults, too. Adult art courses are available, and adults are welcome during open studio hours. After watching my eldest son throw himself into a tempera (no pun intended) frenzy of creativity a few years ago when the place opened, I was inspired despite my middle age to pick up a brush and do likewise. My wife also does projects when she is there. It’s a convivial, no pressure, priced right, all-ages affair. With air conditioning. Plenty of parking, too.

  6. It’s wonderful to have something the NYC folks envy, and Karen is clearly great. Thanks to all of you Albany Art Room loyalists for visiting and commenting. . . and if you know about any other fun local stuff to share, I’d love to hear about it

  7. Susan R

    Hi there…I just found Capital District fun on FB…I wanted to tell you that I am teaching a mosaic class for adults at the Albany Art Room in Aug. I am just finishing up a class at the Friends of Visual & Performng Arts FOVAPA in Fonda (You can go to their facebook page). It was a great experience and the adult students will be displaying all their pieces (at least 2) at the festival Aug 1st. They were so creative and the feedback has been great. Ask Karen at the Albany Art Room about the class schedule..thanks! Susan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *