Situated in London’s Bethnal Green, the base-build section of V&A Museum of Childhood’s major redevelopment has taken a significant step towards realising the plans initially unveiled last year.

“This flagship project for the V&A will see the V&A Museum of Childhood radically reimagined and reinvigorated as part of the biggest redesign in its entire 147-year-history. We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone,” noted Pip Simpson, director of design and FuturePlan.

The project forms part of the institution’s aim of becoming the “world’s most joyful museum of design and creativity for children, families and young people”.

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V&A Museum of Childhood
A concept design for the updated V&A Museum of Childhood © Darc Studio

David Edgar, Labour Councillor for the museum’s Mile End ward, said: “the V&A Museum of Childhood has developed a scheme that will unlock its huge potential to inspire children’s imaginations in the wonders of design – and will reflect the local creative context within which the museum is located.”

Proposals drawn up by architecture practice De Matos Ryan have been refined after consultations with local schoolchildren, teachers, community groups and families.

“Throughout, I’ve been impressed by the museum’s commitment to collaborating with local community groups, families and schools from across the borough on the plans,” Edgar added. “Their project aligns strongly with the Tower Hamlets Council’s vision for the area – I am really pleased they have reached this important milestone.”

What to expect from the reimagined V&A Museum of Childhood

The designs include:

  • A reimagination of the museum’s outdoor landscape, to create a more welcoming arrival for visitors and a space for relaxation and play within the beautiful surroundings of the Grade II* listed building and neighbouring park
  • An upgraded Clore Learning Centre for art and design education. The expanded suite of learning studios will be relocated to the south-side of the building to encourage a new relationship with the museum’s gardens, and through direct access to the galleries, will enable teachers to provide their students with an inspirational, object-based learning experience
  • A ‘Kaleidoscope’ feature staircase in the Main Hall, inspired by optical toys from the museum’s collection, with a new café and relocated ramp for access to the galleries
  • An additional accessible entrance at lower ground level that will provide visitors with a dedicated buggy park, a Changing Places toilet and lockers for families and large school groups
  • Essential renovation of the museum’s infrastructure including major upgrades to lighting, acoustics and heating to dramatically improve visitor experience, revealing the extraordinary narrative of the Grade II* listed building so that its history is better understood and celebrated

Early next year, designs will also be revealed for the scheme’s second phase. This will see East London architecture and design practice AOC lead the development of the renovated museum’s fit-out. Three new permanent galleries, a temporary exhibition space and a complete reimagination of the visitor experience all form part of this brief.

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