This, as the name would suggest, is a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum was founded in 1872 as the Bethnal Green Museum. The iron structure reused a prefabricated building from Albertopolis which was replaced with some early sections of the modern V&A complex. The exterior of the building was designed by James William Wild in red brick in a Rundbogenstil (round-arched) style very similar to that in contemporary Germany. Albertopolis is the area centred on Exhibition Road in London, named after Prince Albert, spouse of Queen Victoria. Following the advice of Prince Albert the area was purchased by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 with the profits made from the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was held in a site in Hyde Park nearby to the north-east. This is commemorated in the name of the principal north-south street laid out on their estate, Exhibition Road. Prince Albert was a driving force behind the Great Exhibition and President of the Royal Commission, and the name "Albertopolis" seems to have been coined in the 1850s to celebrate and somewhat satirise his role in Victorian cultural life. After his death the term fell into disuse, and the area was more widely referred to as South Kensington. The building was used to display a variety of collections at different times, including the works which can now be seen at the Wallace Collection. In the 1920s, it began to focus on services for children, and in 1974 the director of the V&A, Sir Roy Strong, defined it as a specialist museum of childhood.
The Museum of Childhood has lots of free fun things to do for all ages, from exhibitions and displays to activities for children, groups and schools. For a list of current events and displays please click here. Of particular interest is the 'The Tales We Tell'. 14 November 2015 - 3 July 2016. This exhibition presents a rare insight into Warli, a tribal art form from Western India. Drawing on a store of tribal memory, myths and everyday life, it has evolved from restricted ritual drawings into an applied art in the process of transition. Or 'On Their Own' until 12 June 2016. An exhibition telling the heart-breaking true stories of Britain's child migrants who were sent to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and 1970. The Museum is arranged into four main galleries – the Moving Toys Gallery, the Creativity Gallery, the Childhood Galleries and the Front Room Gallery. For visitors who are blind or partially sighted there are many interactives to touch and play with throughout the Museum such as dressing up clothes, rocking horses, Lego and a dolls' house. The Museum also runs free activities for families every day, including arts and crafts, and storytelling. Assistance dogs are welcome. Water is available on request. The Museum is wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available from the Information Desk. Seating is available throughout. Accessible toilets (including one fitted with a Radar lock) are located at the front and rear of the Museum, on the Lower Ground Floor. The rear lift can be accessed via the car park at the back of the Museum by prior arrangement. The classrooms and audio visual displays are equipped with an induction loop sound enhancement system. An induction loop is available from the Information Desk. To use the loop, you will need to switch your hearing aid to the 'T' position. The Museum's quiet room is located on the Lower Ground Floor. The room has multiple uses: as a prayer room; a space for nursing mothers; or as a chill out space for families with children with autism. The room is equipped with an ensuite family-sized toilet, a bottle warmer, a baby changing table and comfortable seating. Free WiFi is available throughout the Museum.
Location : V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA.
Transport: Bethnal Green (Central Line) London Buses routes D6, 106, 254, 309 and 388 stop outside the Museum and 8, 26, 55 and 48 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:45.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 8983 5200