Transforming the V&A Museum of Childhood

The V&A Museum of Childhood is currently closed as we work to transform it into a new world-leading museum of design and creativity for children and young people.

Since the museum's founding in 1872, the V&A Museum of Childhood has been a much-prized and welcoming community space for everyone. As it approaches its 150th anniversary, with a unique story to tell as East London's first public museum, it is being reinvented through new eyes. Drawing on our internationally renowned collections of art, design and performance, the V&A Museum of Childhood will become Young V&A – the UK's premier national museum designed by, and for, young people – a place where you can learn, create and debate together, and design for tomorrow.

Get in touch at: young@vam.ac.uk

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Our Strategic Aims

Our Strategic Aims

We aim to inspire young people to be active citizens and creative change-makers in their communities; to empower educators to drive forward creative education in art, design and performance from early years to secondary school; to connect young people with the creative ingenuity of designers, entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors, and each other, and to influence child-centred museum practice.

"We want to empower children to realise that every act of creativity is impactful, whether it’s self-expression through their clothes, building a world on Minecraft, or launching a school climate strike. By bringing together the V&A's world-class collections with immersive displays anchored in children's every-day lives, we will offer an outstanding day out for families, for free. Beloved by the local community, but in need of modernisation, this ambitious transformation will enable the V&A Museum of Childhood to unlock its huge potential to nurture the potential of future generations and become a global champion of children's creativity."

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A
New programmes and galleries

New programmes and galleries

Children, young people, carers and educators, are helping us to develop the new museum, working closely with our architects AOC Architecture and De Matos Ryan to shape new spaces and programmes.

Three immersive new galleries – Imagine, Play and Design – will showcase around 2,000 star objects from our collections and the UK's National Childhood Collection.

Architectural render showing view across the Town Square and central atrium at Young V&A.
View across the Town Square at Young V&A. Image by Picture Plane. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Vibrant colour and playful, multi-sensory interactive galleries and experiences will transform and enrich the building's original Victorian architecture.

Architectural render showing the new PLAY gallery with toddlers exploring.
View of the PLAY gallery at Young V&A. Image by Picture Plane. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From objects displayed at a toddlers' height, to a wardrobe of costume materials, and new spaces for hands-on making, AOC Architecture's colourful, child-centred designs will foster curiosity and a spirit of collaboration, through spaces designed for inter-generational, structured play and creative experimentation, for ages 0 – 14.

Architectural render of the Living Together display in the IMAGINE gallery at Young V&A.
View of the Living Together display in the IMAGINE gallery. Image by Picture Plane. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Budding designers and artists will explore our world-class collections through displays that enable you to explore, activate and discuss together – because we believe the best way to learn and make sense of the world is through shared and active experiences.

Architectural render showing children exploring contemporary design case studies in the Design Gallery at Young V&A.
Children exploring contemporary design case studies in the Design Gallery at Young V&A. Image by Picture Plane. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Works by leading makers, including Issey Miyake, Bridget Riley and Yves Behar, will explore how objects are made. A new Open Studio will be facilitated by a design educator, enabling visitors to test ideas and get involved in hands on designing.

New workshop rooms and facilities for schools

New workshop rooms and facilities for schools

A new Learning Centre will enable the museum to become a leader in creative curriculum design to support teachers and educators nationally. By relocating the learning areas to the south side of the building, the museum will strengthen the relationship with its gardens, and through direct access to the galleries, will offer provision for teachers to provide their students with an inspirational, object-based experience.

Planning permission and Listed Building Consent was achieved for De Matos Ryan's base-build scheme in August 2019. The designs will create more public space, better circulation (including a new central staircase), improved facilities and essential renovation of the building's infrastructure. The proposals have been refined through over 40 co-design sessions with local schoolchildren, teachers, SEND and community groups and families. In addition, a new room for reading, shop and soft seating, designed by AOC, will refresh the welcome areas.

Find out more about the project as it develops on the Young V&A blog.

National Childhood Collection

National Childhood Collection

The V&A Museum of Childhood cares for the nation's National Collection of Childhood. It comprises nearly 33,000 objects and 61 archival collections that span 400 years, from 1600 to the present day.

From the extraordinary to the everyday, from prototypes to mass-manufactured and hand-made objects, the collection includes one of Britain's oldest rocking horses, a sculptural installation of dolls' houses by artist Rachel Whiteread, and the archive collection of play leader and campaigner for children’s right to play, Donnie Buck.

The V&A also holds a range of archive collections relating to different aspects of childhood. These include pieces from toy and children's clothing manufacturers, and from individuals involved in the toy industry, as well as collections relating to schools and education.

Things to do

Things to do

Continue to be creative at home with the following ideas:
#LetsMakeWednesdays

Blog

Blog

Find out about life in the museum during our transformation on the Young V&A blog, including reflections on how V&A collections are being harnessed to inspire creativity in children, how our Collective of 11 – 14 year olds is developing new skills and how local schools and families are helping to shape our new Learning programmes.

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