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London’s Museum of Childhood to reopen

Will Noble, Young V&A – The Revamped Museum Of Childhood Opens This July, Londonist, 1 March 2023

Plenty of museums are opening and reopening in London in 2023 — here’s our roundup.

London’s beloved Museum of Childhood reopens as the Young V&A on 1 July 2023 — showing off a new look that’s been three years in the making.

We have genuinely missed the playful Bethnal Green museum with its nostalgic displays of toys and games — particularly the ones that make you go “I used to have one of those!” — and are filled with childish joy to know the place will soon be back in action.

Still housed in the grand barrel-vaulted hall once used to house displays from the Great Exhibition of 1851 — and, importantly, still free to visit — the museum will look somewhat different. Kids have been involved in the building’s redesign (don’t worry, nothing structural), which now flaunts a wealth of interactive elements, centred around three galleries: Play, Imagine and Design.

Kids can now create their own Minecraft version of a town square, get on stage in a performance and storytelling space, frolic in a sandpit, perform tricks at a finger skateboard park…. the motto here is “Do Touch”.

Kermit the Frog is coming to London. Listen, this was the photo we were provided with OK. © Jamie Stoker Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

A slew of new material will go on display, much of it taken from the V&A’s own archives, including micro-scooters and Keith Haring artworks — as well as freshly-painted murals by cartoony street artist Mark Malarko. And while classic Museum of Childhood objects will feature, we predict some new acquisitions will quickly become firm faves; in particular, an original Kermit the Frog puppet used by the Jim Henson Workshop in the 1970s and 80s.

The first temporary exhibition at Young V&A is Japan: Myths to Manga — opening on 14 October 2023 — exploring how Japanese landscape and folklore have inspired culture and technology. Kids (and adults) will be pleased to hear it features displays on Studio Ghibli and Pokémon.

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “Children and young people have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic and its aftermath, alongside the dramatic fall in creative education in schools. Young V&A is our response: a flagship project investing in creativity with and for young people and their futures… Our plan is to foster Britain’s next generation of artists, thinkers, makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.”