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.
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The news comes after the National Portrait Gallery announced a three-year closure, starting in June.
Images © AOC Architecture and V&A