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London Travel Guide > Attractions > Museums > Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

V&A Museum of Childhood

The national collection of toys and games, children's costume, nursery furniture and baby equipment, Dolls and doll houses, toys and costumes of childhood. A special "World in the East End" exhibit tells the unique story of growing up in the East of of London through toys and stories. Hands-on exhibits include rocking horses, windup trains, and gravity powered cars, among other delights.

Not every toy is old fashioned! A series of computer kiosks allow visitors to see the toys on display actually moving and you can design a virtual toy to play in a "Toy Wars" game.

The Museum started in the 1860s, when a prefabricated iron structure originally intended for South Kensington was moved to Bethnal Green. The building was faced with red brick and decorated with murals depicting the arts. The distinctive interior tiles were laid by women inmates of the Woking prison. At first the museum housed collections from the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the huge art collection of Sir Richard Wallace (now The Wallace Collection).

It was only in the 1920s that the museum began to build a collection focused on childhood in Britain, and childhood objects were collected, or transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1974 the focus on childhood became the official raison d'etre of the Bethnal Green museum. In 2007, after a brief closure, the museum re-opened as the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The museum features a program of special exhibits, including toys from other countries and cultures, and toys made especially by children for the museum.

V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Road
E2 9PA
Tel: 020 8983 5200
Bethnal Green
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