Revamp of east London site aims to create ‘world’s most joyful museum for children’
The V&A has announced its ambition to create the “world’s most joyful museum” for children and young people in a £13.5m revamp of its east London outpost, the Museum of Childhood.
The redevelopment is intended to make the museum more immersive and interactive, to inspire, it hopes, greater creativity in its young visitors.
A decision on whether the museum will have to close during the planned works has yet to be made, but the V&A director, Tristram Hunt, said he hoped the changes would be completed by 2022 – marking the 150th anniversary of a building that first opened as the Bethnal Green Museum.
“This flagship project will unlock the V&A Museum of Childhood’s huge potential to fire imagination, spark ingenuity and become the world’s most joyful museum for children, families and young people,” Hunt said. “It will support art and design education and help fulfil the museum’s ambition to inspire future generations of artists, designers, architects, engineers and makers.”
Plans include the “Kaleidoscope”, an interactive installation in the main galleries inspired by the V&A’s collection of optical toys; a re-landscaped outdoor play area; and a new lower ground entrance to improve access for school groups and buggies. The original Victorian fabric and details of the building will also be restored.
The redevelopment was applauded by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, who said play was a serious business. “As well as having fun, play is how children discover the world around them, develop their creativity, learn new skills, and grow in confidence into rounded adults.
“That’s why I’m so pleased the V&A Museum of Childhood is being redeveloped so that generations of children will continue to take advantage of new and exciting spaces where they can use their imaginations to play and to learn.”