V&A Museum of Childhood (Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood)
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
VisitingThe Britain Express family visited the museum in mid-September, with our children, aged 20 and 14. Our children (and the adults) were fascinated with the exhibits, and I can only imagine how younger children would find it an entrancing place. There is a very good mix between hands-on activities and displays of historic toys. Our group loved the gear-driven robot, and the exhibit that let you create art using iron filings, with a magnet as a paintbrush.
One thing the museum does very well is show examples of toys used by children from around the world, from Indonesian puppets to an exquisitely carved Chinese rock garden sculpture made in 1780 from ivory, wood, and mother-of-pearl. There is a good mix of time-periods, though most of the toys were 19th and 20th centuries. If you explore as a family group, be prepared for questions from the children about whether the peculiar old toys were around when you were a kid!
A very minor quibble is that the upper floors, where the main exhibits are located, are kept at a fairly low light level. This is probably to preserve older objects from light damage, but it does make some of the exhibits appear a bit dim and the signs harder to read.
Though I've mentioned primarily toys and games, there is more to see than playthings; there is a section of childrens' fashion over time, plus educational toys, and technology like stereoscopes, magic-lanterns, and microscopes.
For a different look at childhood, I recommend the National Trust's Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall in Staffordshire, which explores the role of children in industry during the Industrial Revolution.
About V&A Museum of Childhood
Address: Cambridge Heath Road, London, Greater London, England, E2 9PA
Attraction Type: Museum
Website: V&A Museum of Childhood
OS: TQ351 828
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Bethnal Green - 0.1 miles (straight line) - Zone: 2
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
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