Play in the Pandemic


Young V&A Museum
October 21, 2021

Launching in next month, Play in the Pandemic is online exhibition curated by Young V&A in partnership with UCL and University of Sheffield. The exhibition celebrates children’s creativity, ingenuity and resilience during the pandemic. This online exhibition will be packed with creative content made by children from across the UK and beyond.

Rosie Whitehead and children, 1 and 3 years old, Sheffield, UK, 2020-21, Photograph, ©Play Observatory  PL125A1/S002 

The exhibition focuses on four key themes of Constructing, Exploring, Innovating, and Imagining. It draws together 100s of children’s experiences and examples of play, to develop a joint narrative or story for these individual contributions to sit in. This story has an arc, which starts with play theories, demonstrating how play support children’s social, physical, emotional and intellectual development. It then moves on to examine the challenges created by the pandemic and creative solutions that children adopted in response to them. Parallels have been made between children’s recent experiences to historical examples from the collections and archives at Young V&A. These examples illustrate how children from across the years have used art, design and performance to make sense out of personal and global crises. This story’s arc concludes with inspiring examples of diverse ways to play. Takeaway play activities are being developed in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital’s play specialist team, to promote the benefits of play. These will be available to download and print at home.

Cheryl Bailey and child, 2 years old, Sheffield, UK, 2020-21, Chalk drawing, © Play Observatory PL38A1/S002 

Play in the Pandemic is part of the Play Observatory. The Play Observatory is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research project. It is led by researchers from UCL Institute of Education, the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, and The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL. It is supported by Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British Library, and was developed to record the impact of COVID-19 on children’s play. 

Fei Victor Lim and child, 8 years old, 2020-21, Singapore, Photograph 
©Play Observatory PL175A1/S001 

To find out more about the Play in the Pandemic exhibition click here, or visit the Play Observatory here

About the author


Young V&A Museum
October 21, 2021

I am the Online Exhibition Producer developing 'Play in the Pandemic', an online exhibition celebrating children's creativity and resilience during the pandemic. I work in the Collections Department at the...

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