This outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum in East London displays a large collection of children’s toys dating from the 19th century to the present day.
It is in an iron-framed building originally built for the 1851 Great Exhibition in South Kensington and relocated to its present site in Bethnal Green.
What to see at the V&A Museum of Childhood
This quirky museum displays a collection of objects relating to childhood including children’s clothing and furniture, although the bulk of the collection relates to toys with exhibits that include dolls and dolls houses; construction toys from Meccano and Minibrix to Mr Potato Head and Lego; board games; mechanical toys like the yo-yo and the Slinky; puppets and toy theatres, teddy bears, action figures and toy cars.
Considering it is a museum about childhood, this museum is less child-friendly than you would expect although there are some hands-on exhibits on the top floor including some Lego and a sandpit. For the most part, it is a museum for adults who either have an interest in vintage toys or who want to relive memories of their childhood.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and the current exhibition Playing with Buildings (running until March 2020) is a collaborative project between the museum and UEL (University of East London), where architecture students from the university were invited to redefine how visitors interact with the museum.
Visiting the V&A Museum of Childhood
The V&A Museum of Childhood is located in Bethnal Green in East London. It is only a two-minute walk from Bethnal Green tube station (on the Central line) and Cambridge Heath railway station (on the London Overground with trains from Liverpool Street station) is not much farther.
The museum is fully wheelchair-accessible and it has a Benugo cafe and there is also a picnic area inside the museum where you can eat your own food.
Compared with its parent museum, this museum is relatively small and can be seen in 1–2 hours.