Museum of Childhood

Welcome to the Museum of Childhood on the V&A Blog. Read our latest news, follow our exciting projects and learn more about our collections and activities.

The V&A Museum of Childhood is located in London’s Bethnal Green. vam.ac.uk/moc

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Skeleton suits – The Enlightenment’s onesie?

Unknown boy, perhaps Sir Frederick Augustus D'Este (1794-1848). Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum

Restrictive or liberating: skeleton suits have divided opinion since they first appeared in the late 1770s. Developed during the period of Enlightenment as an alternative to miniature versions of adult clothes; their design was informed by the clothing reforms advocated by physician and philosophers John Locke and Jean-Jacque Rousseau. Locke wrote in Some Thoughts Concerning […]

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Swaddling – babies in a tight bind!

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum. Swaddling band, Italian, white linen, trimmed with whitework, ca. 1590-1600

I thought the task of changing a baby’s nappy was pretty arduous, but recently I have been looking at the babies clothes from 300 years ago and I can only conclude that children and their carers nowadays have never had it so easy! Our stoic forebears didn’t have babygros with quick release snappers or disposable […]

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Fancy dress from page, stage to screen

Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum. 'Fancy Dresses Described, or What to Wear at Fancy Balls' by Ardern Holt  (5th edition) published in England for Debenham & Freebody by Wyman and  Sons 1887

Characters from page, stage and screen have long been a rich source of inspiration for children’s fancy dress. At the V&A Museum of Childhood a whole host of these inspirational fancy dress costumes are now on display. The display has costumes spanning over 90 years and includes a mini Spider-Man outfit complete with foam muscles, […]

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Plastic fantastic – new acquisitions on show

‘Alfie Funghi’ Children’s Desk and Stool Set, designed by Philippe Starck for furniture brand, TOG - ALLCREATORSTOGETHER, 2014. Museum No. B.49-2015.

What does Disney’s ‘Elsa’ fancy dress costume and an orange toadstool desk have in common?  Apart from an awful lot of plastic, they are two of the new acquisitions NOW on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood. Made from bright, durable, synthetic materials, these diverse items reflect the broad range of mass produced items which are marketed at […]

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Hats off to the straw and shellac

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Can you separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to straw hats? Sadly I struggle to, which is why it’s so helpful to have students from the ‘Period Hat’ class at Morley College, London and their tutor Jane Smith come to the V&A Museum of Childhood to study our children’s hat collection with me. During […]

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Guest Post: An Exercise of Re-fashioning Fashionable Fancy Dress

Copyright Celia Reyer/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Guest post by Celia Reyer, costume intern and winner of The Costume Society’s Jubilee Award 2015. The design inspiration I have found from the V&A Museum of Childhood Collections department has come from my research into the history of fancy dress and the practice of re-fashioning in early fancy dress. Fancy dress originated as an adult form […]

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A Day in the Life of a Dollmaker

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By Eloisa Rodrigues Holly and I have been struggling to find another word to replace “interesting” when describing Faith Eaton’s archive as we go along with the research and listing its contents. The truth is the deeper we dig the more interesting it becomes. And the word “interesting” stays – although we sometimes switch to […]

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The Faith Eaton Project: entering the private world of a doll expert

Eloisa small

By Eloisa Rodrigues and Holly Tatham Here in the V&A Museum of Childhood’s archives there is a new dolls’ house world to be explored. Nearly 10 years ago the museum received an incredible and extensive archive which belonged to the doll and dolls’ house collector Faith Eaton, who dedicated her entire life to this subject. […]

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At least 75% of the children behaved themselves properly

F R Wilson with a school group, 1920s

Here’s another gem from The Times in the 1920s. The perennial problem of children in museums had arisen in the letters pages, and the newspaper approached Sir Cecil Harcourt-Smith, Director of the V&A, for comment… Children in the Museums Sir C. Harcourt Smith’s Views The behaviour of children in museums in London having been the […]

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There are many worse places in which to spend an idle day

Mrs Neave's House, c1840. W.17-1930 (c) V&A Museum, London

Dolls’ houses have long been at the heart of the displays at the museum in Bethnal Green, and as Small Stories has shown, their appeal never gets old. This article appeared in The Times on Thursday 23rd August 1928, describing the attractions of the museum for children. Arthur Sabin welcomed children, creating displays especially for […]

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