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V&A Museum of Childhood to reopen as Young V&A

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Here's some good news. The former V&A Museum of Childhood is reopening!

The much-loved museum in Bethnal Green, east London, closed in early 2020. But it was only temporary, allowing it to have a £13m glow up. It's now been revealed it will soo be welcoming visitors again, but with a new look and a new name.

So mark your diaries. The brand new Young V&A will open on Saturday 1 July 2023.

The Victoria and Albert Museum which looks after the museum promise that the overhauled museum has been designed with, and for, 0–14-year-olds, and that its mission is to inspire the next generation of artists, designers, performers and practitioners. The new site has been shaped around the interests of children, to encourage playful learning, foster creative agency, and spark imaginations. The latest research into early years’ development has informed its three galleries, Play, Imagine and Design, and it will help children build the skills and creative confidence they need to thrive in our fast-changing world.

A computer generated render of the central space of the Young V&A
View across the Town Square. Image by Picture Plane © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

But what will there be to actually see? Well Young V&A’s galleries promise they will be packed full of interactives and hands on activities. Highlights include colourful and tactile sensory landscapes for infants and toddlers, performance and story-telling spaces for early readers and writers, an open design studio where children can learn from leading designers, as well as topical contemporary displays and a games design space for teens.

Visitors of all ages will be able to enjoy an interactive Minecraft installation, that takes them across real and imaginary worlds created by Minecraft players around the globe, as well as the murals of street artist Mark Malarko, whose work adorns the cityscapes of London to Athens, Barcelona, and Berlin.

And as it is still a museum after all, the Young V&A opening will see lots of incredible objects back on public display. 2,000 highlights from the V&A’s art, design, and performance collections can be seen, from Hokusai to Keith Haring, and superheroes to the Surrealists.

A puppet of Kermit the Frog is laid flat on tissue paper and is wrapped by gloved hands ready for transportation to the new Young V&A museum
Kermit the Frog, 1976-1980, USA, original design by Jim Henson, being packed by the V&A’s Technical Services team ready to move into Young V&A’s Play Gallery. © Jamie Stoker / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A big draw for adults and children alike will be This Is Me, a co-curated display of new portraits by photographer Rehan Jamil capturing young people expressing what creativity means to them, set alongside self-portraits by leading creatives from Chila Kumari Singh Burman to Quentin Blake, Kenneth Branagh, Dapo Adeola, and Linda McCartney.

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “Children and young people have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic and its aftermath, alongside the dramatic fall in creative education in schools. Young V&A is our response: a flagship project investing in creativity with and for young people and their futures."

Legendary Oscar-winning actor Dame Emma Thompson has also hailed the Museum of Childhood reopening. “I’m delighted to know that Young V&A — our first national museum created with and for children — will be opening soon...For kids, this will be a space of collective fun, cultural enrichment, and wonder, and it’s designed specifically for them, which makes it incredibly special.”

Before its closure — which actually happened earlier than was first planned due to the pandemic and March 2020 lockdown — the Museum of Childhood was attracting around 350,000 visitors a year, but the Tristram Hunt has expressed his desire that the number will now rise to 550,000.

The reopening comes in a busy year for the V&A. Their Chanel exhibition is a hot favourite to be the most-visited UK exhibition of the year, and they'll be celebrating the world's biggest DIVAs too. So make sure you know what's on at the V&A in 2023 so you don't miss out.

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