Museum of Childhood Closed from 18 March 2020 Menu

© Donne Buck / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This internationally significant collection records the practice, people and politics of adventure play in Britain over six decades.

Donne Buck has been a playleader and campaigner for children’s right to play since the 1950s. A significant figure in the history of play, in his long career Donne has established and run adventure playgrounds in London, Stevenage and Peterborough. He has been an active campaigner for children’s rights and promoted the importance of play in education and social development, working with central government, local councils and international agencies.

The collection’s thorough documentation of debate, activism and practice holds much potential for researchers. The struggles to retain play services during Thatcher’s government (particularly 1983 – 1987) is well recorded, as are the ideologies of safety and freedom which shape conversations about play to this day.

© Donne Buck / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The archive contains over 1400 photographs of Adventure Playgrounds across Britain, as well as children’s drawings and writings.

Documents also record Donne’s career as an organiser and promoter of playgrounds in Stevenage and Peterborough in the 1970s and 1980s. Unpublished letters give insight into the background of the newsletters, posters and pamphlets which are also preserved here.

A large section of the archive is dedicated to play safety, including files of newspaper clippings about accidents, official reports and surveys. There are also large numbers of books and specialist journals relating to play work, training, and child welfare.

Read Donne Buck’s biography

View the full catalogue

Visit the Archive page for details of how to access the collection

© Donne Buck / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Groups and organisations mentioned in the archive include:

  • Adventure Playground Workers Association
  • British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres (BASSAC)
  • British Standards Institution – BS5696 Children and Youth Action Group (CYAG)
  • Council of Playground Employees (COPE)
  • Department of Education and Science
  • Fair Play For Children Charitable Trust Ltd – The National Committee for the Safety of Children at Play (FPFC)
  • Federation of Resource Centres (FORC)
  • Ford Foundation
  • Greater London Council (GLC)
  • Handicapped Adventure Playground Association (HAPA)
  • Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Institute of Play Leadership
  • Inter-Action Trust Ltd
  • International Play Association (IPA)
  • International Year of the Child 1979
  • Joint National Committee on Training for Playwork (JNCTP)
  • Kid’s Club Network London Adventure Playground Association (LAPA)
  • Make Waste Space Play Space campaign
  • National Association of Recreation Leaders
  • National Children’s Bureau (NCB)
  • National Out of School Alliance (NOOSA)
  • National Play Advisory Committee (NPAC)
  • National Playing Fields Association (NPFA)
  • Organisation Mondiale Pour L’Education Prescolaire (OMEP) – World Organisation for Early Childhood Education
  • Play Board – Association for Children’s Play and Recreation Ltd
  • Play For Life
  • Play it safe! Campaign
  • Play Link
  • Playmovement
  • Play-Train
  • Playworld
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)
  • The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)
  • The Youth Service Association (YSA)
  • Tumble Tots
  • U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS)

V&A Museum of Childhood
Bethnal Green

The museum is currently closed

Visit us

Exhibition - Jan von Holleben – Picture This!

Jan von Holleben – Picture This!

17 January until 10 May 2020

View the exhibition

Activity - Daily activities (term-time)

daily acitivites

Details of free drop-in activities taking place during term time, including arts and crafts, tours, trails and storytelling.

Find out about activities

V&A Museum of Childhood collections

Discover the national collection of Childhood related objects, from ideas to design, toys to schoolbooks. All Museum of Childhood Objects

V&A Museum of Childhood is closed today

Close this window to explore our website.

More information about the closure