Pre-pandemic, the V&A’s Museum of Childhood shut with a view to re-open in two years after a £13m refurbishment of the entire building, and complete modernisation of their content.
Significantly renamed to Young V&A, the new space has been co-designed with young people, and will focus on empowering today’s youth and will move away from nostalgic displays of the past with a ‘Do Touch’ policy.
There will be three permanent galleries: imagination, play and design, all aimed to give young people the confidence to find their creativity in today’s world, committing to engaging children born after 2015 or ‘Generation Alpha’.
Philippa Simpson, director of design, estate and future plan at the Young V&A, said: “It is about always looking forward rather than just looking back. This will be a V&A for young visitors.”
Visitors will be able to enjoy sensory playscapes, a finger skateboard park, an ‘Imagination Playground’ construction zone, a performance and story-telling stage, and an open design studio for children and young people.
With 2,000 objects to see, there will still be the old favourites of the Museum of Childhood, with nostalgic displays of the toys parents and grandparents will remember from their youth, as well as some new standouts, such as an original Kermit the Frog toy.
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.”
Hunt’s aim is to create a new type of museum after a recent survey of Gen A by Beano Brain, revealed that a startling 44% of children, when asked what the word museum meant to them, replied along the lines of ‘boring’.
“Japan: Myths to Manga” is the young V&A’s first exhibition set to open in October, which will take you on an atmospheric trip through Japanese history exploring how landscape and folklore have informed Japan’s technology and design.
The Young V&A will also host their summer festival, a long weekend of performances from local creatives, music, and puppetry and the chance to join in on a range of hands-on activities in their creative studios.
The museum will open Saturday, July 1, and is free to visit. You can find it at Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA.