#LetsMakeWednesdays – Time travel!

July 15, 2020

Let’s explore the past, present and future! There are many ways we can find out about the past and predict the future without travelling through time. Museums, in some ways, can be a time machine, where we can look at objects from the past to learn about life then, and collect things now to save for the future.

Nursery alarm clock with space-themed design, made by Westclox Scotland, probably around 1965. Mus. no. B.15-2017 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Alarm Clock / This alarm clock was made in 1965 and has a space design. Designs inspired by space and science fiction were extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, when people were excited about the Space Race, and trying to make rockets to the moon.

Let’s look back

Ask an older person to describe a game from their childhood. If it’s not possible for them to describe the game to you face-to-face, maybe you could ask them to describe it to you over the phone. Here are some questions you could ask to get a good description:

  • What was the game called and what did it look like?
  • How did you play the game?
  • Did it have separate parts?
  • What materials was the game made from?
  • What colours was the game?
  • What did you like about playing it?

Did you know that we have many games in the V&A collection? Try finding the game described to you on V&A Search the Collections.

Ghost Train board game,
1970 – 5. Mus. no.
B.2054:1-1999 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Ghost Train / This is a prototype design for the 1970s board game, Ghost Train. In the game players move counters on a board designed like a fairground train track. Players need to move from ‘Start’ to ‘Win’ while trying to avoid spooky ghosts! This prototype is made from painted card and would have been created to test the game before making it out of more expensive materials.

Once you have a good description of the game, let’s sketch it out.

Now you have an idea of what the game looked like, have a think about how you would improve it for young people today.

  • How can you make it more fun, interesting or challenging?
  • How can you make the style more appealing?
  • Can you make it out of sustainable materials?

Try drawing your new improved design. Show your design to someone in your family. What do they think? Do they have any ideas of how it could be made even better? Can you make the game so you can play it?

Let’s look at now

The V&A collects, looks after and displays many objects that are very old, and it also has objects that have been designed and made very recently. Some of these objects are part of the V&A’s Rapid Response Collection. This collection asks visitors to think and learn about the world we live in today.

Look at some objects from the Rapid Response collection here. Do you recognise any objects?

Lego Research Institute, designed by Ellen Kooijman. Mus. no. CD.51:1 to 6-2014 © Victoria and Albert Museum

The Research Institute / This LEGO® set was collected in 2015. Launched in 2014, it is made up of three female scientists: an astronomer, a chemist and a palaeontologist. Geoscientist Ellen Kooijman designed the set as she wanted LEGO® to show more women in professional roles, such as in science.

Let’s make a time capsule to tell someone in the future about living in 2020!

Step 1: In your recycling bin find a plastic or metal container. It is best to find a container that you can seal tightly with a lid or top, and won’t let any moisture in. Make sure it is clean and dry before you start using it.

Step 2: Collect small items from your house to put in the capsule. Try to tell a story about the year we live in through the things you put inside. How about including a newspaper cutting from the day, a drawing or photograph of your home or a letter to a person in the future describing what’s it’s like to live in the year 2020? Ask other people in your household to add things too. (Remember to check permission first before putting things in your capsule!)

Step 3: Close and seal your container with tape – try to make it watertight. Write a message on the top of the container with instructions for when the capsule should be opened, for example ‘Time Capsule from 2020. Do no open till 2070!’ Cover your message in clear tape also.

Step 4: Ask an adult to help you hide your time capsule. You could put it in the loft, hide it under a floorboard, or bury it in the garden.

Let’s look to the future

Can you imagine what the world will be like in the year 2070? How will towns and cities be different? How will homes be different? What will our daily routines look like? Have a chat with people in our household to get their thoughts too.

Kaleidoscope doll’s house, designed by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright. Mus. no.
B.1-2002 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Kaleidoscope House / This multicoloured dolls house was designed by artist and photographer Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright in 2001. The colourful and transparent sliding doors can be opened and closed. It was a created as ‘a response to the reality of life in 2000′, as homes needed to suit families of different sizes, types and lifestyles.

Let’s design a bedroom for a young person living in the year 2070. Imagine what a young person in 50 years might be like. What will school life be like for them? What will their hobbies and interests be? Will they use more or less technology?

List your favourite things about your bedroom, perhaps a comfy bed, a night light, a space to play. What do you think a young person in the future would need or would like to change, add or adapt?

Now take some time to draw out your future bedroom design. Look at the V&A collections for some inspiration for furniture.

Make sure you share your designs with us using #LetsMakeWednesdays  

Did you know that the V&A is reopening from Thursday 6 August 2020? While we are very excited to welcome you back into the museum, we will continue to post activities on our #LetsMakeWednesdays blogs and social media each week to keep you entertained at home.

0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more