After seven intensive years of dedicated planning and design, we can announce that Young V&A will open its doors in Bethnal Green on Saturday 1 July – in time for the summer holidays!
Co-designed with children and young people, Young V&A is a free, national museum designed to showcase the power of creativity in children’s lives as they build new skills and develop the creative confidence needed to thrive in our fast-changing world.
Young V&A will be a ‘doing’ museum – a joyful, buzzing, and optimistic place underpinned by the power of design and creativity. Today we shared some of the amazing hands-on experiences audiences can look forward to, including 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. These elements – and more – will help to celebrate playful learning through creativity and create multigenerational activities and experiences.
The museum’s three permanent galleries – Imagine, Play and Design – will showcase around 2,000 objects from across the V&A’s vast collection of art, design and performance in surprising and inspiring ways. Highlights include a sensory environment for pre-walkers in the Play Gallery, alongside a range of new commissions, co-designed and co-curated projects and live programming. Every aspect of Young V&A has been developed with a rigorous eye to childhood developmental theories and practice, interwoven with the expertise of our curatorial, interpretation and learning teams to create experiences that will be social, relevant and inspiring.
More new features include an interactive Minecraft installation in the Play Gallery’s game design space ‘The Arcade’, new murals by street artist Mark Malarko, and innovative creations by young people made for Raspberry Pi’s Coolest Projects competition. Young voices are also featured in This is Me a co-curated display within the Imagine Gallery. Here, Rehan Jamil’s portraits of local young people captured at Oxford House community arts centre during our Reinvent Festival, are set alongside self-portraits by leading creatives from Chila Kumari Singh Burman to Quentin Blake, Kenneth Branagh, Dapo Adeola, and Linda McCartney.
Japan: Myths to Manga
Young V&A’s first exhibition will be Japan: Myths to Manga, which opens on 14 October 2023. From sky to sea, and into the forest and city, the exhibition takes us on an exciting and atmospheric trip through Japanese history to explore how landscape and folklore have influenced popular culture, technology, and design. Alongside a series of sensory interactives and activities, the exhibition features films such as My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Ponyo (2008) from the iconic animation studio, Studio Ghibli, a manga-inspired coat by Comme des Garçons, and dizzying heel-less shoes by Noritaka Tatehana, plus plenty of Pokémon. Also on show is Doodle Champion Island Games (2021), a role-playing browser game created by Google with Studio 4°C, epic sculptures by Keita Miyazaki and a moving installation of 1,000 cranes – a symbol of remembrance from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan.
The coming months will be a hive of activity for our V&A teams as we continue our wide-ranging community outreach programme, building on the success of YV&A’s Reinvent Festival, which took creative activity far and wide across Tower Hamlets and into neighbouring boroughs, embedding local partnerships and working with schools. To date, we have worked directly with over 12,000 children, young people, and families. By opening week we’ll have engaged all schools in Tower Hamlets as well as key schools and community organisations nearby.
We want Young V&A to inspire young people and families with the creative ingenuity of art, performance, and design, to empower educators from early years workers to teachers, parents, and carers to promote creativity, and to influence child-centred museum practice across the sector.
In the lead up to opening, we’ve been presenting Young V&A at national and international conferences exploring how museums are evolving to meet the needs of ‘Generation A’ (children born after 2015). Last October, we took part in the Education Integration Global Forum (EDI) in Naples, which brought together 180 senior arts professionals from around the world. Here, we gave the keynote speech on our vision for museum learning focusing on the role of co-designing with children. In November 2022, we gave the keynote at the A&DO annual seminar, organised by Design Museum Helsinki, aimed at Finnish teachers, educators and designers exploring the role of museums as educational resources in the lives of young people. Focusing on co-design at Young V&A, we shared case studies on our early design development workshops with architects De Matos Ryan and the substantive co-design gallery fit out projects with Agents of Change, including co-creation and activities with schools, young people, and families to build our learning programmes. Further information on the co-design and co-creation workshops can be found here.
We are so excited see Young V&A come to life this summer and can’t wait to welcome our first young visitors and their families. But between now and when we open our doors, there is much activity to deliver, as we strive to fulfil our young co-designers’ brief to create the most ‘joyful museum in the world’.
Really looking forward to the reopening. Looks amazing.
Japan exhibition sounds great. Will be bringing my teenage children.
Will any of the old exhibits be on show? I don’t have children but have been visiting since the 1970s particularly to see the old dolls house collection.
Will there be any activities for adults? The dolls house one a few years ago was excellent.