The former V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green has confirmed its opening date following a £13 million redevelopment and will reopen as Young V&A.

(c) V&A

With spaces designed for babies to teens, family-friendly exhibitions and a programme of events, highlights of the revamped building will include colourful and tactile sensory landscapes for infants and toddlers, performance and story-telling spaces for early readers and writers, an open design studio where children can learn from leading designers, as well as topical contemporary displays and a games design space for teens.

Alongside creative education spaces for hands-on making and performance in Young V&A’s galleries, three workshop spaces dedicated to learning and a reading room in the lower ground floor will support a year-round programme of learning and education. Programming will range from early years sessions to curriculum-based provision for school learners in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 and after school and holiday activities for families and young people.

The Young V&A will open on Saturday 1st July 2023 following the 3-year redevelopment which realigned the museum to appeal to children aged up to 14 years old.

The venue — which now seems difficult to describe as a museum — also announced their first exhibition, Japan: Myths to Manga, which opens in October featuring Studio Ghibli, Pokémon, manga-inspired fashion and more.

Apart from the change in tone for the venue, the revamped Young V&A includes a new entrance to the lower floor area, giving easier access to the classrooms and staff spaces, while a row of offices has been opened up into a new classroom area, and a new larger goods lift will make it easier to change exhibition displays.

The shop moves from the main hall to the entrance lobby, while the reception desk seems to vanish entirely — which opens up more space in the main hall. This means more space for the cafe, and those all too important nighttime events hire revenues.

A semi-circular outdoor learning terrace has also been added around the side of the museum, while the main entrance will be relandscaped to make it more obvious which of the planned two entrances people should use.

The renamed Young V&A The museum was founded in 1872 as the Bethnal Green Museum, and the curved roof iron structure that houses the former museum is a prefabricated building from Albertopolis which was replaced with some early sections of the modern V&A complex.

The building was used to display a variety of collections at different times. In the 19th century, it contained food and animal products, and various pieces of art. It was remodelled as an art museum following World War I, with a children’s section which subsequently grew in size.

In 1974 the director of the V&A, Sir Roy Strong, defined it as a specialist museum of childhood.

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4 comments
  1. Andrew says:

    It will be fascinating to see the further reinvention of William Cubitt’s iron-framed “Brompton Boilers”, first put up as temporary structures in the 1850s. Some old images here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/building-the-museum

    • Susan Heathcote says:

      We used to love the old one. Was it in Bethnal Green? Look forward to you taking us to the new one. Xx

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    “In 1974 the director of the V&A, Sir Roy Strong, defined it as a specialist museum of childhood”. Which is why the sole time I went, must have been the late 70s, its name was the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. In retrospect about as clunky as the new one…

  3. L Van-Gelder says:

    I hope the very large dolls houses are still in giant display cabinets. Also fashion through the decades including bridal. Would be very sad if not.

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