Young V&A Review: Here’s What We Thought – And What You Need To Know
The Young V&A in Bethnal Green, London, is the shiny new version of what was previously the V&A Museum of Childhood.
It has recently reopened after a multi-year, £13m revamp.
We were all big fans of the the slightly faded charm of the old version, so were keen to see if the Young V&A could live up to my children’s – museum of – childhood memories.
Here’s our Young V&A review and everything you need to know before you go.
What Is The Young V&A?
Young V&A is the newly reopened version of the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum of Childhood, now designed for and – partly – by kids.
In the same beautiful old building as the Museum of Childhood, Young V&A has three permanent galleries, Imagine, Play and Design.
It showcases over 2,000 objects from across the V&A’s collection, with a lot of old and new childhood favourites both adults and kids will recognise.
Including a big selection of Barbie…
Where has Sindy gone though? Poor Sindy.
There is also a big mix of smaller, interactive exhibitions and a story-telling stage.
The new-look museum also houses a dedicated exhibition space, and the first paid exhibition will be Japan: Myths to Manga, opens in October 2023.
Is Young V&A Free Entry?
Yes, the Young V&A is free to enter,
How Busy Is Young V&A?
We went at the end of the school holidays and it was, as you’d expect, busy!
It is probably a wise idea to get there early, we walked straight in at 10am but when we left after lunch there was a 30 minute queue outside.
Be warned, when it is busy, it is also really noisy due, to how echoey the building is.
How Long Does It Take To Go Round Young V&A?
It is small! If you have kids that like to zip round museums you could probably do the whole of Young V&A pretty quickly.
A big chunk of the Play gallery is aimed at younger kids which means it’s even quicker with tweens and teens.
I wouldn’t devote a whole day to it (half should be more than fine).
What Is There For Younger Children?
It’s brilliant for babies and younger kids.
The ground floor Play section has two big play areas, including a sensory environment for pre-walkers, and a section with big soft play building blocks.
The sensory play area is a safe and clean place to take your just-crawling baby.
And hopefully you can sit and drink tea and have a rest.
What Is There For Tweens And Teens?
The Play Gallery’s game design space ‘The Arcade’ with new and old video and board games is fun.
There’s also an interactive Minecraft installation.
The Design section focuses on different ways design can change the world and is really absorbing.
(I’d love to come back minus-kids during term time).
We all liked the Imagination section, with toys, optical illusions and small world houses.
Is There A Cafe At Young V&A?
Yes there is a café at Young V&A, in the main hall. Be warned, the café doesn’t have the widest choice of options, especially not for the pickier of kids.
However, the main hall also has space for you to eat your own food if you’d rather take it with you.
There are a lot of other food options in the area outside the museum too.
Is There A Gift Shop?
Yes as expected, there is also a gift shop. Whereas before it was situation in the main courtyard, it has now been moved to the front of the building, by the entrance and exit.
Strangely for a child-focused museum, there’s not the widest choice of fun / small things for kids here either (lots of lovely expensive stuff for adults though!).
Is There Pram Storage?
Young V&A also has a lot of pram storage. There were a lot of prams!
Where Is The Young V&A?
Young V&A is at Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA
When Is Young V&A Open?
It is open every day from 10.00 – 17.45.
What Did We Think?
We liked it. We were initially sad to see that some of their favourites from the old museum – the rocking horse, the maid fancy dress, the magnetic iron filling heads that never really worked – were long gone. However, there was lots of newness they did love.
The Young V&A looks fantastic, especially main hall and the mirrored staircase, and there is a huge amount of attention to colourful detail, from graffiti murals through to neon signs.
It’s always going to be hard for a museum that has toys behind glass meaning you can’t play with them to keep it compelling, but there’s a big focus on interaction in other areas.
It is also hard to balance everything for all ages but does feel like there’s a little bit less for older kids.
My two are probably at the upper end of the age limit for spending the maximum amount of time here, and in the time it’s been closed they’ve come to love the V&A proper, which we can spend hours at.
But we’re all looking forward to coming back for the new exhibition.
More London Museums For Kids We Love
The Tate Modern
The Biggin Hill Museum.
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