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V&A Museum of Childhood becomes Young V&A as £13m redevelopment begins

V&A Museum of Childhood is renamed Young V&A as construction begins on a £13m transformation project.

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V&A Young / Museum of Childhood

The V&A has started construction on the £13m redevelopment of the V&A Museum of Childhood, now named the Young V&A, in Bethnal Green, London.

The Young V&A will be a place to play, create and design for tomorrow. It is being reimagined to become the UK’s leading national museum dedicated to children.

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, described Young V&A as “a world-class museum that nurtures curiosity, experimentation and celebrates play” that will “be a global champion for children’s creativity in all its forms”.

“This vital investment – working to counter the ongoing effects of Covid-19 on young people’s access to creative education, collaborative play, and artistic inspiration – is more urgent than ever,” he added.

“I am delighted we are one step closer to reopening the museum’s doors in 2023.”

Young V&A set to reopen in 2023

V&A Young / Museum of Childhood

The V&A has released images of AOC Architecture’s designs for the museum, which will offer an entirely new visitor experience. Plans include three new galleries – Play, Imagine and Design.

Additional offerings include an interactive collection of displays, a suite of workshops for learning, an in-gallery design studio, and a new café and shop.

The V&A completed work earlier this year on cataloguing, conserving and packing objects from the National Childhood Collection, which was previously stored below ground at the museum.

The National Childhood Collection will now move to the V&A East Storehouse, opening in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2024. The project also includes the V&A East Museum.

The Young V&A’s collection contains more than 33,000 objects. The move will free up almost half of the museum’s back-of-house space, making room for the learning workshops and exhibition preparation.

De Matos Ryan was appointed as the project’s architectural firm in early 2018 to develop base build design. Construction is now underway, as a handover of the site to Quinn London contractors took place in August this year.

AOC Architecture designs Young V&A

V&A Young / Museum of Childhood

AOC Architecture is the design team responsible for the fit-out. The firm is completing final detailed drawings for construction tender in early autumn 2021.

Sustainability and environmental responsibility are at the heart of the development, and include the reuse of materials such as demolition rubble and repurposed elements from past V&A exhibits.

Dr Helen Charman, V&A director of learning, national programmes and Young V&A, said “reinvention is woven into the fabric of this incredible building”.

Young V&A has “rightly won over a special place in the hearts of many east Londoners, many of whom have visited as children, then as parents and grandchildren”, Charman said.

“Today, we mark 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,” she added.

Images: V&A

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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