The V&A Museum Of Childhood Is Closing For Two Years For This Huge Revamp

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 30 months ago

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The V&A Museum Of Childhood Is Closing For Two Years For This Huge Revamp
The main hall will be reimagined into The Town Square

The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green will close for two year from this May — ahead of a £13m transformation.

Mock-ups of the revamped museum, from AOC Architecture, depict a brighter, lighter space; the main hall is reimagined as an inviting 'town square' with a 'kaleidoscopic staircase' linking the ground floor with the upper level. A 125-person-capacity performance space, The Stage, meanwhile, will host family activities, and give children a space to perform their own shows.

The Stage will be a space for children to perform their own shows

Three new galleries will welcome visitors when the museum reopens in 2022. 'Imagine' will trace the myths, fables and inspirations behind famous characters like Paddington Bear, Pikachu and the Loch Ness Monster, while inviting visitors to explore Alice in Wonderland-inspired fantasy rooms, filled with optical illusions.

Paddington Bear will feature in the 'Imagine' section of the revamped museum

'Play' will feature a series of interactive displays, sandpits and an area dedicated to pre-walkers, with textured displays for sensory exploration. Games from chess through to the crowdfunded card game Exploding Kittens and the mobile app Monument Valley will be available to play.

The Monument Valley game will be available to play alongside traditional ones, like chess

At the heart of the museum's new 'Design' area will be The Designer's House; a space for artists and schoolchildren to work together. In all, the museum plans to be far more interactive and hands-on for children than it is in its current incarnation.

An original Superman costume will be on display

Among new exhibits at the revamped museum will be Hollywood props and costumes including the original Superman costume and Frankenstein's Monster, and Mary Poppins's magical umbrella from the 1964 Disney film.

Other exhibits will include Beatrix Potter's illustrations of the world of Peter Rabbit, the life-size West End War Horse puppet Joey, and designs by innovative artists Virgil Abloh and Olafur Eliasson.

'Design' will feature an open studio, where children and their families will be able to experiment through hands-on making.

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said:

We want to empower children to realise that every act of creativity is wondrous, whether it's self-expression through their clothes, building a world on Minecraft, or launching a school climate strike. By bringing together the V&A's world-class collections with immersive displays anchored in children's every-day lives, we will offer an outstanding day out for families, for free.

'Play' will feature multi- sensory landscapes, and a large-scale sandpit, helping the youngest visitors explore the collection. There will also be a full-gallery length alphabet display

The museum's final weekend before its closure will be a three-day free, festival over the first May bank holiday, called Re-Invent. It will feature live performances and a specially commissioned artist installation. Doors then close on 11 May 2020, for regeneration works to begin.

In the interim, the Museum of Childhood will put on a two-year programme of free activities for families at Whitechapel's Idea Store.

'Imagine' will feature and Alice in Wonderland-inspired space with optical illusions, and see seven interconnected rooms celebrating the power of storytelling and self-expression

The news comes after the National Portrait Gallery announced a three-year closure, starting in June.

Images © AOC Architecture and V&A

Last Updated 18 February 2020