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The Young V&A: A museum for children by children | UK News

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A museum dedicated, designed and curated by over 22,000 children has opened, after a £13m redevelopment.

The Young V&A – formerly the Museum of Childhood – is a space “for” children, not “about” children, according to its director.

“This is a museum for doing,” Dr Helen Charman, director of the Young V&A told Sky News.

“For playing, for imagining, for designing, for hanging out with your friends.

“This is saying come and be loud, it’s a space for you.”

Led by the needs of Britain’s young people, the east London museum has three exhibitions available to its target audience – children aged between 0 and 14 – with sensory play, creativity and accessibility at its heart.

The “junior V&A”, as it’s been described, has a unique curatorial approach – with design, production and curation input from children, parents and teachers at every stage of the project.

It’s inclusive approach seemingly has the royal seal of approval.

Earlier this week, the Princess of Wales was offered a tour around the museum.

Around 2,000 objects from the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington were transported to the Bethnal Green hub.

These range from a Syrian rattle dating from around 2300 BC to a Microlino car theatrically suspended from the ceiling – as part of a display exploring the way we travel.

Film props are also included in the displays, including Harry Potter’s Nimbus 2000 broomstick from the film franchise, and Christopher Reeve’s original Superman costume.

The Princess of Wales was offered a tour around the museum

The Young V&A is, unsurprisingly, a hit with young people.

Samia Baichor in Year 9 helped curate one of the exhibitions alongside a contemporary designer.

For her, the museum’s hands-on style – whether that’s through playing a bespoke Minecraft game, or soft play for toddlers – are the “most interesting” parts.

She told Sky News: “When I was younger, I was quite curious. I quite liked touching things.

“I felt quite restricted in those museums… which is what made it so boring.”

Saima’s view is a common sentiment.

Rayen Yanis-Bouakkaz, 9, told Sky News he does not often go to museums, as he also finds them “boring”.

“You just stare at stuff. Now (at the museum) you can do interactive stuff.”

“Really fun!”, he added.

The Young V&A - formerly the Museum of Childhood,
Credit - David Parry, courtesy of Young V&A.
Pic: David Parry, courtesy of Young V&A

The museum is a free resource, with a programme of events and exhibitions running this year.

This was critical – especially given the cost of living crisis, according to Catherine Ritman-Smith, Head of Learning & Engagement at the Young V&A.

She told Sky News: “Access to cultural learning is becoming the preserve of a few that can afford to do that – and for schools to afford to do that.

“People and families also are making very difficult choices about what they spend their money on.

“Making this museum free, we hope we’re cutting down some of the barriers to accessing this, and making sure even when times are tough in our society, that there are places you can come.”

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