Building Creative Confidence – An update on the transformative new plans for the V&A Museum of Childhood



September 11, 2019

The V&A Museum of Childhood is changing! We have been working on plans for the redevelopment for some time, but now we are ready to share a little bit more, as we begin to get designs back from our architects. Think of this as a sneak peek into the future of the museum and expect regular updates from the team on different aspects of the project.

What have we been up to since April?

We have given ourselves 2 full years for our design phase of the project – it might sound like a long time, but we’ll need every week. This stage is so important because it is all about problem solving and working proactively, collaboratively (and learning if some things don’t work so well) in order to reach the best solution we can.

We have turned our attention this year to working with our designers AoC (Agents of Change) to develop the future galleries and finding out how people will connect with our collections and explore them together.

When A Pirate’s Life For Me closed, we turned the current exhibition gallery into a live testing area for our ideas. We’re calling this the Open Studio, and it will become the Head Quarters for all of our planning – but gradually the whole of the V&A Museum of Childhood will be used to test our ideas! You may see the Information Desk moved to the front entrance, or even the shop in different parts of the building. Please let us know what you think by popping into the museum and speaking to our Activity Assistants, or write to us at futureplan@vam.ac.uk

We want to know what works best. We’ll continue to update the Open Studio with new displays and ideas, and we’re even going to hang up a curtain in the space to see how a stage might work. We want to bring people in to the Open Studio – whether it’s to just enjoy the space and have some time to play, or to join our co-design groups. We want as many voices as possible to shape the future of East London’s first Museum, and our content teams have already held 16 co-design sessions. Do come along to one if you can – they’ll be taking place every third Saturday of the month from September. To join the Family Forum, please get in touch with us with Chinami Sakai at c.sakai@vam.ac.uk.

Our Highlights from the Spring and Early Summer

Planning Application – We’re pleased to announce we’ve just received our planning and listed building permissions for the base build planning and listed building consent! Earlier in the year we met with lots of different organisations such as Historic England and the Victorian Society, gathered up all the plans for the base build scheme and sent them to Tower Hamlets. We’ve been having lots of public consultations over the process, and a few residents’ evenings. These have all been great opportunities to meet our neighbours and hear their thoughts and ideas for their local museum.

We had our first morning breakfast with Love Bethnal Green. It really highlighted to us how rich the community around the museum is – there were representatives from local studios, schools, churches and other organisations with us. It was a great way to use our future ‘town square’. At the same time, our public consultations have been great opportunities to get to know our neighbours and hear their thoughts and their local museum.

Decant Plans – the Museum of Childhood objects that are currently in storage are moving to our new Collections and Research Centre in Stratford to join the V&A collection for the first time in its history. We are starting to make plans for moving all of our 35,000 objects and 61 archive collections offsite.

What's next?

  • The project team spent August gathering together our list of new objects for the galleries which have now been shared with the design team. The next phase of design from September this year to January 2020 will be more detailed and will build on the work we’ve done so far. 
  • Both De Matos Ryan and AOC will come together to form one big design team in the autumn and our co-designers will join our curatorial, learning, and design teams once again to create new stories for the galleries.
  • If you want to get in touch and ask a question, just pop by the museum and speak to our Activity Assistants, or send us an email on futureplan@vam.ac.uk
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