The Museum of Childhood’s story dates back to 1974, when the V&A officially dedicated its Bethnal Green outpost’s growing collection of toys, dolls houses and other objects to the history of childhood. While there was a certain degree of nostalgic attachment to the museum, mainly among older generations, in truth the cavernous Victorian era building had never quite lived up to its true potential when it came to its key target audience: kids.
Following a three-year, £13 million renovation, the museum is reopening with a revitalised design and a new name, Young V&A. “We needed to find a way to articulate the fact that it wasn’t a museum about childhood any longer, and it wasn’t a nostalgia fest, it is genuinely a V&A museum for the young. It really needed something to give it that gearshift,” explains Dr Philippa Simpson, V&A’s director of design, estate and public programme.
The new and improved museum is envisioned as a “clarion call for the importance of creativity”, according to Young V&A director Dr Helen Charman, who is also the V&A’s director of learning and national programmes. Alongside global stories of children’s creativity are over 2,000 highlights from the institution’s art, design, and performance collections – ranging from micro scooters to Minecraft.