The V&A runs a popular and varied programme for families. Sometimes in the holidays and at half term there are several hundred people attending our drop-in activities so we are keen to ensure that they have a good experience. Often visitor research focuses on how families feel about the content of the events they attend but practical considerations can have a huge impact on how much they enjoy their visit. We wanted to know how they used the existing facilities and what we could do to improve on them in the new Sackler Centre.
Our consultation with families took place during an Easter holiday event and was based on a questionnaire. We asked particularly about the services and facilities for families, for example the café, toilets and picnic space.
Family groups are sometimes one adult and one child but more often there will be several children of different ages. We realised from the survey that we needed to make it easier for parents and carers to feel confident about finding their way around and to provide facilities that could be used by the whole group together. Babies need to be changed and fed and often families want a pleasant place to eat their own food. The design now reflects these findings.
There can never be enough toilets but we have now provided as many as possible in the space available and have made sure that there are extra accessible toilets on each floor. In addition there will be a family toilet, a separate baby change and feeding room with provision for toddlers as well, and baby change facilities in both the male and female toilets. The cupboards in the cloakroom area have been designed to accommodate buggies and a space will be kept free during activities for visitors to eat their own food.