What do you do on a grey, rainy day? Cinema may be good, providing there’s a film you want to see. But we’ve got quite a few of those grey, rainy days here in the UK, I’m not sure there’s enough good films to cover all of them. Besides, it’s always good to have some alternatives to choose from, right? The Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is one you can definitely add to your bad-weather-list.
If you read my blog regularly you might remember my trip to the V&A Museum – for ‘grown ups’ – a few months ago (if you don’t, go here). I’d say that’s another one to keep in mind on a gloomy day. Anyhow, when I spoke to one of my neighbours about the V&A and how much I enjoyed it, he told me to check out the V&A Museum of Childhood because he thought it was really good. As an added bonus, the latter turned out to be in Bethnal Green, practically on my doorstep!
So last week, on a rather dreary afternoon indeed, I decided to go and sniff up some culture at the Museum of Childhood. The museum itself isn’t overly big, but the toys collection is impressive nevertheless. What I found particularly cool is the fact that there were plenty of ‘playing corners’ all over the museum; places where children can play games, build their own little house or ride a rocking horse. I even saw a small indoor sandpit! Museums often have this ‘seriousness’ surrounding them I find, so to see (and hear!) kids have fun and play around in the V&A of Childhood makes the experience even more enjoyable.
As for the collection itself, I’m not a toys expert, but to my inexperienced eye it seems pretty extensive. There are puppets from different periods in time, moving toys, incredibly detailed doll houses, board games, and many, many other things I don’t immediately recall.
One of my absolute favourites was the doll house collection – you can see one of them on the picture featured with this post. There are some truly beautiful pieces, most of them still in their original state and donated to the museum by their previous owners. The board game section is fun too; not only are there a lot of old board games (and their sometimes surprising history), you can sit down and play a game yourself as well- might be an idea if you’re with friends!
A few Tips & extra Information
The museum is open every day of the week, although something tells me you’re probably best to go during the week due to weekend busy-ness. The entrance is free, but a 3 pound donation to keep the place going is appreciated (and fair, if you ask me). Coffee and cakes are available at the museum canteen, right in the middle of the building. If you’ve had your fair share of children’s noise, but fancy a nice coffee nevertheless, there’s the Gallery Cafe just outside the museum.
To cut a long story short: next time it rains, you know where to go!
V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9 PA, London.