The V & A Museum of Childhood

Yesterday I was over in Bethnal Green for a visit to the Victoria & Albert’s Museum of Childhood.

The building was originally envisaged as a location in the East End to display some of the material gathered together for the Great Exhibition and, although rather plain in design, it does feature some magnificent friezes on the exterior walls designed by F W Moody and a fish scale-patterned floor which was laid by the female prisoners from Woking Gaol. Over time the museum accumulated gifts given to members of the Royal Family, finally being dedicated to its current purpose in 1974.

It’s an interesting space – a big open hall with many of the exhibits arranged in glass cases along the ground floor and an upper gallery. Items on display range from the earliest wooden toys to the small self-contained computer games that were a popular stocking filler before the advent of home computers. There is an extensive area dedicated to puppettry (including an extravagant 18th century ‘home theatre’, on which  marionettes were used to act out serious plays) and also a whole range of dollhouses, from the unique creations made for wealthy children modelled after their own homes, to mass-produced products from the 1930s.

At the moment there’s a rather strange and creepy creation in the entrance area, ‘Magic Worlds’, which is on display until next March, and it goes without saying that there are masses of activities available for kids – you can find out about all of the events here on the museum’s website.

About Pete Stean

Pete Stean is a London-based writer and photographer. He can also be found on Twitter and on Google Plus.

Real Time Analytics