Posted by: Paul | August 18, 2010

Museum of Childhood

I’d never been to this museum before yesterday, but it was the perfect place for the three of us to meet an old friend who was in London for just a few short days.

Though it looks like a station building (a bit like the Musee d’Orsay in Paris), with a central sunken section with a cafe, surrounded by elevated galleries on two floors, it’s actually originally a temporary iron pavilion raised in Brompton in 1859, and moved to its present site in Bethnal Green in 1868 and surrounded by a permanent structure. Extensive renovation and modernising work was carried out in 2005 and 2006 and the museum reopened fit for the 21st Century.

The updating is very well thought out. It even includes a manned buggy park (yay!), and even outside of the subject matter it’s a great place to take kids. It’s actually a branch of the V&A, housing their collection of objects relating to children and childhood, and has a temporary exhibition space on one side of the upper floor. And best of all, like it’s parent museum, it’s free!

We had a lovely morning wandering around – well, chasing Adam mostly who ran from case to case like a fly desperate to escape a conservatory. He especially liked anything mechanical – the miniature railway (which sent two trains at a time round for the princely sum of 20p…crafty!) proving an especially big hit.

Aswell as the static cases there is plenty for the little ones to play with, including an indoor sandpit, game tables, drawing, dressing up…and in the middle of August it was not crowded at all – I expect due to its position out of Central London. It was a great recommendation, and we will definitely be back – when we can combine it with a shopping trip to Westfield at Stratford on the way home once it opens!

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