Today new renders have been revealed for the updated and rebranded V&A Museum of Childhood, which is set to open in 2023.

Construction has begun on the £13m redevelopment of the Grade II listed site in Bethnal Green, which closed its doors in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic. First set to reopen in 2022, it will now reopen in 2023 as ‘Young V&A’.

New renders from AOC Architecture – the design team responsible for the fit-out – show a new plan split into three parts. An amphitheatre-style stage in Imagine, a free-play construction area within Play, and a working Open Studio in Design, inviting young visitors to develop their creative skills through performance, play and design.

Alongside this, three workshop spaces will be created dedicated to learning, and a reading room in the lower ground floor.

De Matos Ryan architects were appointed in early 2018 to develop full base build design, including structural changes, heritage restoration, lighting and acoustic upgrades and delivery of a new suite of new workshop spaces.

Construction is now underway with handover of the site to Quinn London contractors last month, and in parallel, AOC Architecture is completing final detailed drawings for construction tender in early autumn.

Student Opps Grant

The V&A is working to raise the full amount from private philanthropists, trusts and companies.

In a commitment to sustainability, Young V&A said the construction will include the reuse of materials across the project from demolition rubble to repurposed elements of past V&A exhibitions.

Free-standing display cases that could not be reused have been donated to museums and galleries including the National Motor Museum and Poldark Tin Mine Heritage site.

New acquisitions

Alongside the design update, Young V&A has revealed new acquisitions which it hopes will reflect the social and environmental issues facing young generations.

Highlighted among the acquisitions is a skateboard owned by Tokyo 2020 medallist Sky Brown, who at 13 years old this year became the youngest professional skateboarder in the world and Britain’s youngest-ever Olympics athlete.

Also on display will be a selection of garments by sustainable fashion designer, humanitarian and artist, Bethany Williams, and ‘The Hero Arm’ from UK-based prosthetics company Open Bionics.

Sky Brown said of her exhibit: “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.”

Around 33,000 existing objects from the National Childhood Collection, previously stored below ground at the museum, will now move to V&A East Storehouse, which opens in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2024.

The museum is also building its offer for creative professionals and will establish a Young V&A Designer in Residence in 2022.

The resident designer will use the Young V&A collections and gallery themes to inspire their practice and to undertake research into child-centred, inclusive design processes, informing the museum’s thinking and future programmes.

The call out for the Residency will go live on 6 October 2021.

Dr Helen Charman, V&A Director of Learning, National Programmes and Young V&A, called the new announcements a “momentous milestone in the evolution of its identity and underscore its core purpose – to champion, nurture, and inspire the innovators of tomorrow and build creative confidence in the young. We can’t wait to reopen the doors.”

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