We couldn’t be more excited by the news that the Museum of Childhood will finally reopen as the Young V&A this July! Growing up near Bethnal Green just got an upgrade!
The Museum of Childhood has been sorely missed, once the default place to go as little ones would enjoy meandering through the isles gazing longingly at the toys behind glass displays. Always a great place to meet up for a coffee with other mums and although we felt it could do with a bit of a spruce up, eyeing the Maritime Museum’s interactive play space with envy from across the Thames, it was a much loved home from home for weary parents nonetheless. This photo was taken from a fuzzy felt inside one of their play packs that perfectly summed up my mood at the time.
The return could not be more anticipated.
Children who don’t know what they’ve missed out on will have the chance to discover an East London institution. After three long years, East London families will be most excited to see what has been happening behind closed doors. The Young V&A metamorphosis will be ready for public on the 1st of July followed by a week-long festival from the 8th of July – a promise of many exciting times ahead.
Visitors can expect a much more hands-on experience with sensory playscapes, a finger skateboard park, an “Imagination Playground” construction zone, a performance and storytelling stage, an open design studio and a sand pit. Designed collaboratively with children, the Young V&A museum has been shaped around their interests to encourage playful learning, foster creative agency, and spark imaginations.
Rooted in the latest research into early years’ development, three galleries, Play, Imagine and Design, will help children build the skills and creative confidence they need to thrive in our fast-changing world. The littlest ones will love the colourful and tactile sensory landscapes.
The new performance and story-telling spaces are designed to inspire early readers and writers. Children can learn from leading designers in an open design studio while topical contemporary displays and a games design space will entertain teens.
Inspiring global stories of children’s creativity feature alongside 2,000 highlights from the V&A’s art, design, and performance collections, from Hokusai to Keith Haring, Micro Scooter to Minecraft and Superheroes to the Surrealists.
Exhibitions and events
Festival of Play July 8th
Join in the celebrations with a weekend-long programme of family-friendly creative activities.
Families are invited to add to a large-scale physical installation by Leap Then Look that will transform the room into a work of collaborative art as visitors add their own unique contributions. Enjoy performances from local creatives including music, puppetry, and dance, and join in with a range of hands-on activities across the new galleries and creative studios. There will be opportunities to make, build, play and perform throughout the museum.
Japan: Myths to Manga October 14th
From sky to sea, and into the forest and city, this exhibition will take us on an exciting and atmospheric trip through Japanese history to explore how landscape and folklore have influenced popular culture, technology, and design.
Alongside a series of sensory interactives and activities, the exhibition features films such as My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Ponyo (2008) from the iconic animation studio, Studio Ghibli, a manga-inspired coat by Comme des Garçons, and dizzying heel-less shoes by Noritaka Tatehana, plus plenty of Pokémon.
Also on show is Doodle Champion Island Games (2021), a role-playing browser game created by Google with Studio 4°C, epic sculptures by Keita Miyazaki and a moving installation of 1,000 cranes – a symbol of remembrance from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan.
Opening day: 1st July 2023
Young V&A, Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA