Immediately striking about the V&A Museum of Childhood is the size of the building. Originally constructed as the “Bethnal Green Museum”, the venue contains the largest collection of childhood objects in the UK.
With the whole building consisting of an open atrium with raised galleries to the left and right on the 1st floor, the place is packed full of interesting hark-backs to bygone ages in the toy industry.
Starting with “magic-lanterns” and spinning cartoon-drums, the museum provides a walk through the ages. Notable inclusions are ancient sets of Scalextric, and very early games consoles, which provided a whiff of nostalgia for this writer. Further back than that though, the museum contains everything from a 1920s model railway to a collection of model cars replicating those which set the highest speed limits of the day.
A host of interactive cabinets containing things which move and make noise (fascinating and enthralling for children) cost just 20p to set the wheels in motion. Included in this are the model railway, a mechanical wave-imitator (dozens of wooden slats pivoted together and run by a motor imitate the motion of choppy seas), and a puppet show being ‘filmed’ by a moving cine camera. Packed full of touch screen interactive areas, exhibits to play with and also places to dress up, or sit down, the museum is perfect for kids with imagination.
The exhibits, with their yesteryear appeal, are as much a treat for the parents and other adults as they are for the children.
Opening Times: 10.00-17.45 Monday-Sunday (last admission 17.30) including 10.00-21.00 on the first Thursday of every month.
Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
DIRECTIONS FROM THE ELL STATION TO THE MUSEUM