The museum in Bethnal Green will reopen in 2022 following the £13m renovations.
The V&A’s Museum of Childhood is to undergo a £13m revamp, to create spaces that are more open, exciting and immersive, with the focus less about nostalgia and more about encouraging young people to change the world.
The building is to close for two years and will reopen in 2022, with a wider variety of objects on display from the V&A’s wider collections, including a Superman costume, Beatrix Potter’s illustrations of Peter Rabbit and a life-size horse puppet from the play War Horse. There will also be examples of contemporary design on display to encourage young people to dream up their own ideas.
Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A said the aim was offer a free and outstanding day out for children. “This ambitious transformation will enable the V&A’s museum of childhood to unlock its huge potential to nurture the potential of future generations and become a global champion of children’s creativity.”
The aim is to create a more forward-thinking museum. “For the last few decades it has been a site of nostalgia for a lot of people who love it because they show their kids the toys they played with when they were young,” explained Philippa Simpson, director of design. “When it reopens there will be more emphasis on unlocking the potential of future generations.”
The plan is to create spaces that are more open, exciting and immersive. Popular, nostalgic favourites such as the collection of dolls houses will remain, but will be displayed differently, as exhibits focus on looking forward rather than back.
There will be three new galleries: Play will include everything from the crowdfunded card game Exploding Kittens to chess; Imagine will include exploring stories behind characters, whether Paddington Bear, Pikachu or the Loch Ness monster, and Design will include an artist-in-residence programme as well as displays which feature examples of contemporary design such as the micro-scooter.
“This will be a V&A for young visitors,” added Philippa. “If you imagine South Kensington but rethought totally through the eyes of a child … that’s what we are heading for.”