V&A Museum of Childhood to change name as it begins £13m redevelopment

·2 min read

A £13 million redevelopment of the V&A Museum of Childhood has begun in east London.

The site in Bethnal Green, which dates back to 1872, will be renamed Young V&A and has been redesigned with and for children under the age of 14.

The new galleries, designed by De Matos Ryan architects, will include an amphitheatre-style stage in the Imagine area, a free play construction site within the Play zone and a working “open studio” in the Design section.

Young V&A is expected to open its doors in 2023.

V&A Museum of Childhood
The museum in east London (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Curators have made a number of early acquisitions, including a skateboard owned by Sky Brown, who became Great Britain’s youngest medallist of all time when she won bronze in the women’s park skateboarding final in the Tokyo Olympics, and the first 3D-printed bionic prosthetic limb, The Hero Arm.

Brown said: “When kids skate, they forget about what they might be struggling through, and just think about happiness.

“I hope that when people see me, the smallest girl, doing the highest trick, that they think they can do anything, too.”

Tristram Hunt
Director of the V&A Tristram Hunt (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ahead of its reopening, the museum will in 2022 celebrate the 150th anniversary of the V&A in Bethnal Green with a project involving every school in Tower Hamlets.

It will offer creative assemblies, workshops with students and teacher forums and develop new activities for families with grassroots local organisations.

Earlier this year, the process of cataloguing, conserving and packing objects from the 33,000-strong National Childhood Collection, previously stored below ground at the museum, was completed.

They will move to the V&A Storehouse which opens in 2024.

Director of the V&A Tristram Hunt said: “Young people’s lives have been dramatically altered by the pandemic, yet they have adapted and enriched the soul of the nation in extraordinary ways – from a rainbow campaign honouring the NHS to Sky Brown’s skateboarding achievements for Team GB.

“A world-class museum that nurtures curiosity, experimentation and celebrates play, Young V&A will be a global champion for children’s creativity in all its forms.

“This vital investment – working to counter the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on young people’s access to creative education, collaborative play, and artistic inspiration – is more urgent than ever. I am delighted we are one step closer to reopening the museum’s doors in 2023.”

More information is available online.

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