The Museum has worked with families with children on the autistic spectrum to create resources to support their children’s visit.
Making SENse Family Packs
The Museum has created family packs in the form of backpacks that can be borrowed for free from the Information Desk. There is a pack for use in the Moving Toys Gallery and another for the Childhood Galleries. They include maps, toys to touch, activity suggestions and ear defenders. PECS symbols and a photo booklet are included to help with communication.
Packs are available to borrow for up to one hour. Please leave a form of ID e.g. a passport or a driving licence, or a £10 refundable deposit.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Friends of the V&A.
Making SENse previsit guide
The Museum has developed a previsit guide, designed to help families with children on the autistic spectrum make the most of their visit. This photographic guide shows families what to expect from their visit to the Museum.
Visiting the Museum with an autistic child
The Museum is an inspiring place for children to visit, however, we do understand that public outings with children on the autistic spectrum can often be challenging. By working with families with autistic children, the Museum has created some useful resources, designed to help families with children on the autistic spectrum make the most of their visit.
How can I prepare for my child’s visit?
We recommend that you visit the Museum on your own in advance. Plan a route around the Museum that best meets your child’s needs. Download the Making SENse Pre-Visit Booklet to help you prepare for your visit in advance.
What are the Museum’s opening times?
The V&A Museum of Childhood is open seven days a week, 10.00-17.45. We are closed on the 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January. The quietest times to visit are 14.30-17.45 on weekdays and 10.00-11.15 at weekends.
Can I park at the Museum?
The Museum doesn’t have a public car park; however visitors with access difficulties can contact the Museum in advance to request a parking space in the staff car park (off Victoria Park Square). Parking spaces are dependent upon availability. To request a parking space, call 020 8983 5200 during Museum opening hours.
What are the nearest transport links?
Underground, Zone 2 – Bethnal Green (1 min walk). No lift, escalator access only.
Bus – D6, 106, 254, 309 and 388 stop nearby.
Rail – Cambridge Heath (10 min walk) and Bethnal Green (20 min walk). Stair access only.
Do I need to book my visit in advance?
No, you can visit any time during our opening hours. The quietest times to visit are weekdays, 14.30-17.45 and weekends, 10.00-11.15. If you would like to reserve one of our Making SENse family packs, or have any questions about your visit, please call our Information Desk on 0208 983 5200, or the Learning Manager on 0208 983 5220.
My child gets distracted by the shop and café. Can I avoid the shop and café when I visit the Museum?
Yes, it is possible to avoid the shop and café when you arrive at the Museum. Turn right after you come through the main entrance doors and you will see a flight of stairs going down to the Lower Ground Floor. From there you can take the lift to the First Floor, avoiding the shop and café. If you are unsure, ask a member of staff to advise on alternative routes around the Museum.
Are there any activities available for my child in the Museum?
Yes, there are a range of activities available to enjoy before, during and after your visit to the Museum. Making SENse family packs can be borrowed from the Information Desk (see above). The packs contain tactile items for your child to touch, as well as a suggested route map and themed activities. You will need to leave a piece of identification (such as a passport, driving license or credit card) at the Information Desk when borrowing the pack.
The Museum also runs free family activities every day, including arts & crafts and storytelling. For more information, visit the Daily Activities page.
Is the Museum noisy and crowded?
Sometimes. The quietest times to visit the Museum are weekday afternoons, 14.30-17.45 and weekends, 10.00-11.15. The Museum can be noisy during the school holidays and in the morning during term-time. The Museum has ear mufflers available; please call in advance to reserve a pair.
Is there a place to go if my child is distressed?
Yes, if at any time your child finds the visit overwhelming, a member of staff can direct you to the Quiet Room. The Quiet Room is on the Lower Ground Floor near the toilets. If the Quiet Room is not available, a member of staff will find an alternative room for you in the Clore Learning Centre.
Can we bring our own food to the Museum?
Yes, packed lunches can usually be eaten in the Summerly Room (Lower Ground Floor). If the Summerly Room is unavailable, a member of staff can recommend an alternative area. There is also an outdoor picnic area. Food and drink are not permitted in the galleries, please ask a member of staff if you are unsure.
Where are the toilets? Are there family facilities as I don’t want my child to go into the toilet on his / her own?
The toilets and Quiet Room are on the Lower Ground Floor, directly under the main entrance, which can be accessed via the stairs in the Front Room Gallery or the lift. Nappy bins and Baby Changing facilities are available. There is an en-suite family-sized toilet in the Quiet Room. The male and female toilets are equipped with a larger cubicle at the far end of the room. Our accessible toilet is locked by RADAR key. To access the toilet, ask a member of staff at the main entrance or Information Desk.
The Museum is on a busy road, and my child is liable to run off. Is there an alternative exit I can use?
Yes, if you are worried about leaving the Museum via the main entrance, ask a member of staff to escort you to an alternative exit.
Do I have to pay for admission?
No, admission to the Museum is free. However, there are coin-operated machines in the galleries (a train set, wave machine and jukebox as well as other automata) which usually require 20p or 50p to use. Change is available at the Information Desk.