This week I went to check out what the old Museum of Childhood has become! Does the Young V&A Museum live up to its ambitions to be the world’s most joyous museum? Was it worth the long wait?
After 3 long years, is it East London’s children or their parents that most anticipate its reopening? My own son can barely remember it so with him stuck at home due to chicken pox, I had to go on my own. The doors will open for all on Saturday the 1st of July!
The press conference was most informative and we learned that the Museum of Childhood is now called the Young V & A because rather than being ‘of childhood’ it is now ‘for childhood’ and also because teens and tweens like to think of themselves as something other than children. The museum aims to cater for the youngest of babes all the way to 14 years.
Over 22,000 children, teachers and SEND professionals have input into the development of the new museum which takes children’s play very seriously as the first national museum designed for and by children. For example, collaborating with children and working through questions like ‘how to make stairs more interesting?’ led to a very exciting kaleidoscopic spiral staircase that dazzles as soon as you enter.
The space itself is so much brighter and more inviting. The stunning new performance area is enough to tempt even the most inhibited to parade and perform. Everything is much more open but there are some familiar elements too like the beautiful flooring that’s over 150 years old and the doll’s house exhibition.
The toddler area is lots of fun although I do hope they introduce some loose parts. They’ve not spared any expense, with real marble and deluxe materials, the Young V&A Museum has been built to stand the test of time and grow and evolve within those familiar walls.
What does the Young V&A Museum have for older kids?
I know when we go, my son is going to want to go straight to the gaming area and I saw a couple of tweens enjoying the space when I was there. There’s a Minecraft-like game that takes around 2 mins to complete and other games to explore too.
The Young V&A Museum will host creative workshops throughout the summer and a permanent workshop with Clara Chu who will be helping young people to design and create accessories from the most imaginative of materials.
There’s a lot to see. You can check out my reel for a little peek but to find out if it truly is the world’s most joyous museum I’ll have to return with my son. It wasn’t quite the same without him.
I’d love to know what you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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