Not all of London’s museums are in the centre of the city. The East London suburb of Bethnal Green is home to the V&A Museum of Childhood, home to a wide range of toys from several decades.
Now that Lizzie is an easily-bored toddler, we felt that we needed to go to a museum that would keep her interested. Thankfully, a museum filled with toys fits the bill, especially during school holidays. It’s technically part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but doesn’t focus on art and sculpture like its larger Kensington sister museum.
A lot of the toys are enclosed in big glass cabinets, but there are some interactive exhibits. The most popular of which was simply a big pile of differently sized cardboard boxes, perpetuating the oxymoron that children are sometimes more interested in the box than the toy inside. Upstairs there was a sandpit, and we arrived just in time for an interactive story-telling session.
Lizzie also enjoyed the sensory exhibit, with bubble tubes and multi-coloured lights. Christine and I appreciated the range of toys, which included the very old and the quite new. At the back is a large display of dolls houses, lit up as if in a large night-time scene.
We didn’t have the time to see everything as we had to go to meet a friend in the afternoon, so we only had a fleeting glance at the upstairs exhibits (sandpit aside). There’s quite a good café in the central atrium of the museum, which seemed quite busy even before lunchtime.
Entry to the museum is free, and it’s just up the road from Bethnal Green tube station on the Central Line. The museum itself is fully accessible but the nearby tube station doesn’t have step free access. We brought Lizzie in her sling as we knew we’d struggle with a pushchair.