The Museum of Childhood announces name change

The Museum of Childhood has announced that it has become The Young V&A. Peter Gray reports on the transformation of the Bethnal Green museum.

As work begins on the £13m transformation of the Museum of Childhood, the institution has announced that it will henceforth be known as The Young V&A.

The name reflects the museum’s newly defined mission, which is to inspire young people with the creative ingenuity of design, to empower educators and to act as a leader in child-centred museum practice.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Young V&A (@museumchildhood)

Designed with and for 0–14-year-olds, the Bethnal Green museum aims to become the UK’s premier national museum entirely dedicated to children with the remit of providing a place to play, create, debate and design for tomorrow.

 “Young people’s lives have been dramatically altered by the pandemic, yet they have adapted and enriched the soul of the nation in extraordinary ways – from a rainbow campaign honouring the NHS to Sky Brown’s skateboarding achievements for Team GB” says the Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Young V&A (@museumchildhood)

“A world-class museum that nurtures curiosity, experimentation and celebrates play, Young V&A will be a global champion for children’s creativity in all its forms. This vital investment – working to counter the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on young people’s access to creative education, collaborative play, and artistic inspiration – is more urgent than ever. I am delighted we are one step closer to reopening the museum’s doors in 2023.”

The Museum of Childhood during the pandemic

The Museum of Childhood was forced to close its doors in March 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the lockdown, the museum launched several digital initiatives to reach out to its many followers.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Young V&A (@museumchildhood)

In May 2020, the museum launched its biggest and most comprehensive digital initiative. In order to document young people’s creativity during the pandemic, the project asked for children to create their own unique rainbows.

The initiative was a huge success with over 1000 submissions. The V&A opened All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown in December 2020 to showcase the many entries.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Young V&A (@museumchildhood)

The Young V&A

Plans for the revamped museum include three new galleries: Play, Imagine and Design, a host of interactive collection displays drawing on the full scope of the V&A collections, a suite of dedicated workshops for learning, an in-gallery design studio for visitors, and a redesigned visitor experience including a new café and shop.

Alongside the rebranding exercise, the museum have also announced a host of new acquisitions which will add to the Institution’s already impressive collection.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sky Brown (@skybrown)

A selection of garments by sustainable fashion designer, humanitarian and artist, Bethany Williams from her Spring / Summer 2021 ‘All Our Children’ collection (2020), featuring illustrations that shine a light on families from the Magpie Project – an east London-based grassroots organisation that supports women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – and silhouettes inspired by the V&A’s National Childhood Collection.

The world’s most affordable multi-grip prosthetic arm – The Hero Arm. Designed for children and adults, The Hero Arm challenges traditional notions of prosthetics, presenting disabilities as superpowers with an empowering, multi-functional and affordable design.

A selection of linocut ‘Woodism’ prints, a moving project between father and son – Sonny and eight-year-old Woody who is autistic. Sonny turns Woody’s unique phrases and way of viewing the world into linocut prints. The creative process gives both a chance to connect as they work together on designs and has given Woody a newfound confidence.

A skateboard owned by Tokyo 2020 medallist Sky Brown. At 13 years old, Sky is the youngest professional skateboarder in the world and Britain’s youngest-ever Olympics athlete.

This is what Brown had to say about her inclusion in the museum’s collection: “When kids skate, they forget about what they might be struggling through, and just think about happiness. I hope that when people see me, the smallest girl, doing the highest trick, that they think they can do anything, too. I’m so excited that my skateboard will go on show at Young V&A and love the idea of a museum that only exists to inspire young people and help them discover their superpowers. The sky is the limit!”

The National Childhood Collection moves to V&A East

As the Young V&A prepares for the greatest transformation in its history, work was drawing to a close on the cataloguing, conserving and packing of objects from the National Childhood Collection, which was until now stored below ground at the Bethnal Green museum.

The collection, which comprises over 33,000 objects, will now move to the V&A East Storehouse, which will open at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2024. The relocation of the collection will allow the Young V&A to free up over half of the museum’s back of house space. This will be used in future for conservation and exhibition space.

Working in partnership with young people

Part of the remit of the newly renamed Young V&A is to forge closer links with local schools and students. As part of that effort, the museum has been working closely with Tower Hamlets schools in the past few months, offering creative assemblies, running workshops with students, teacher forums, and developing new activities for families with grassroots local organisations.

The sessions have been designed to give young people the opportunity to generate hundreds of ideas inspired by the themes within the new galleries, particularly addressing challenges and opportunities for their generation, demonstrating the creative prowess of ‘Gen Alpha’ to harness their imaginations to make their world a better place for all.

To further this project, each of the museum’s new galleries will host one co-creation project, in order to reflect the thoughts and feelings of the children who have helped The Young V&A in its transformation project.

The Young V&A is expected to open in the summer of 2023 . More information about the museum can be found here.

For information on other great museums in London, please click here.


-London's Best Events-
What: museum reopening
When: summer 2023
Where: Bethnal Green