V&A Museum of Childhood

Museums, Childhood Bethnal Green Free
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(27user reviews)
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 (© V&A Images)
© V&A Images
 (Marble Floor Gallery and café © V&A Images)
Marble Floor Gallery and café © V&A Images
 (© V&A Images)
© V&A Images
© V&A Museum of Childhood
 (© Annabel Stockman)
© Annabel Stockman
 (Harlem Globe Trotters Game, Milton Bradley Corporation, USA, 1971 © V&A )
Harlem Globe Trotters Game, Milton Bradley Corporation, USA, 1971 © V&A
 (© V&A Images)
© V&A Images
Girls Primary School Confiscation Cabinet Inner & Outer & Fringe London 2012 Confiscation Cabinets at The V&A Museum of Childhood.
 (Sindy in the Sixties © V&A Museum of Childhood)
Sindy in the Sixties © V&A Museum of Childhood
 (© courtesy V&A Museum of Childhood)
© courtesy V&A Museum of Childhood
 (Perambulator, 1959 by Keith Parry © V&A Images)
Perambulator, 1959 by Keith Parry © V&A Images
 (The Nuremberg House, 1673 © V&A Images)
The Nuremberg House, 1673 © V&A Images
 (Teddy bear 1905-10 © V&A Images)
Teddy bear 1905-10 © V&A Images
 ('A Girl Writing', c1860 By Henriette Browne © V&A Images)
'A Girl Writing', c1860 By Henriette Browne © V&A Images

Home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes, the Museum of Childhood shines brighter than ever after extensive refurbishment, which has given it an impressive entrance. Part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and continues to do so with ‘Incredibles’ figures complimenting bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes. The museum has lots of hand-on stuff for kids dotted about the many cases of historic artefacts. Regular exhibitions are held upstairs, while the café helps to revive flagging grown-ups.

Discover more great days out for the little ones


Venue name: V&A Museum of Childhood
Address: Cambridge Heath Rd
E2 9PA
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5.45pm (last admission 5.30pm)
Transport: Tube: Bethnal Green
Price: Free
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  • Exhibitions Until Sunday February 25 2018

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Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:12
  • 4 star:14
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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Avatar for Jenny E

Amazing museum of everything childhood related from past to present. The exhibits are set out in numerous glass cases around the perimeter of this huge building and accessible on two levels. There are little play stations set out in amongst the exhibits so there are plenty of places for younger visitors to stop and enjoy themselves and keep their attention.

Showcased across the museum are toys, crafts, clothes and furniture from the past, present and future including a narrative of children's toys and making tools across the ages. It's very interesting and includes a number of fantastic pieces which are wonderful to see captured side by side.

In the centre of the museum is a lovely big open space for families to enjoy a drink and bite to eat before visiting the small gift shop as you exit.

It's a wonderful place for young children and best of all, it's free.

Avatar for Vishaal V

Fantastic museum which brings back great memories of childhood for the older amongst us. Also puts on very interesting events for children, and adults! The description of some of the exhibits is scant though. They currently have a board games exhibition that is worth checking out. 

Avatar for Jojuj

It's a rare museum that can appeal to adults as much as (or more than) to kids. The V&A Museum of Childhood does just that, thanks to its thoughtful exhibits, manageable size, gorgeous building, space for play, and interesting social-historical contextualisation of children's lives. However, due to the open-plan design, the space can get noisy during busy periods.

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Avatar for Tony G

This museum offers fantastic activities for children and the collect of toys from our past is great.

Avatar for Josh G

Great space, great people, great collection! I pretend to go for my little ones, but I enjoy it at least as much as they do.

Avatar for Caroline G

I love this building, it reminds of being in a train station, not just the high roof but the bustle. It's a museum that's alive, mostly down to children not being afraid to interact and respond to pieces, which you don't often in see in galleries and exhibitions. It's also fun to pick out the stuff from your past, what you had, what you wanted! The changing photography exhibitions at the entrance of the museum I often find very thought provoking and moving.

Avatar for MatureLinda

A wonderful museum.  A reminder of the comparatively few toys that educated and amused me so long ago as well as those toys that existed before and after my own childhood. So much to see and do - hands-on models, mini cartoon cinema, dressing up and relaxing areas.  I particularly enjoyed looking at the amazing puppet theatres from around the world - some dating back to early 1800s.  Some of the puppets were wearing costumes to rival those of their human counterparts.  A very disabled-friendly museum too - wheelchair access through doors and an internal lift to all floors.  Watch out for their very special free events - a treat for all ages.  Cafe on ground floor has very limited but pricey menu.

Avatar for Kritt N

For kids born in the 80’s and 90’s prepare to be hit by a wave of nostalgia when you visit the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

Part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the museum is home to the finest collection of childhood toys from the Victorian era through the modern day. From victorian puppets Punch ‘n’ Judy to the the very first Playstation, it’s all here. It’s also educational as a museum should be. Did you know the world’s first ever Teddy Bear was made in 1902?

What I absolutely loved most was seeing the toys I once refused to be torn away from being displayed in the museum. I was staggered!

Despite not occupying a huge area of land, the museum has impressively managed to display many o fit’s collection on its many floors and mezzanine. There are interactive play areas for kids to play if you have little ones in tow (I was ‘arrested’ by a child policeman and placed in ‘jail’ when I was casually walking around) and a cafe where flagging big kids (i.e. adults) can revive themselves.

It may not have the grandeur and resplendence of its bigger siblings in South Kensington, but the Museum of Childhood evokes nostalgia like no other and definitely worth a visit. A lovely museum for the whole family.

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Avatar for Tamara B

There was definitely a nostalgia trip in visiting this museum. It's a place to go to with kids as there's play areas mixed in with the glass cases. It might be better if there were more interactive areas as it was slightly frustrating for my friend's 4 year old son just looking at toys in glass cases rather than being able to touch them. Also, the toys in individual cases were mixed together from different periods and it was hard to understand the theme at times. It's a nice bright large space and convenient from Bethnal Green tube station. 

Avatar for Chlo Fo

The Museum of Childhood is a throw back to your youth. A plethora of toys and educational games from across the decades fill this wonderful building, which was originally built as the Bethnal Green Museum. The insane numbers of screaming children means you may feel as though you've stepped into a Harvester pub's soft play area (or some kind of nightmare), which is somewhat amplified by the open plan layout. That's not to say it's not a good museum, it is for the kids after all. There are some great items on display and some interactive educational games too, which are great for the kiddywinks. Despite the beautiful right building, they have done a poor job of lighting the items on display (particularly the dolls houses), I understand they need to be protected, but what's the point if you can never actually see them? This could easily be rectified by adding buttons that you press to light things up one at a time. They put on various different exhibitions throughout the year, currently about Britain's migrant children. This was a really interesting exhibition about the hoards of children that were sent to countries such as Australia and Canada for a 'better life', but were often subjected to horrendous abuse. Just a warning though that this exhibition isn't really suitable for children as some of it is a little disturbing. If you want to grab a bite to eat there's a good Benugo cafe in the centre of the ground floor offering a good selection of hot and cold food. However, it's not a spot for quiet contemplation, more a case of feeding time at the zoo! Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, just gear yourself up with earplugs.

Avatar for Raquel M

Nice place. I daughter had a good time colouring and playing around. A lot things to see. The only thing that I didn't like was the coffee shop Benugo it is very expensive!!! Next time I'll bring my on food. 😉

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Avatar for jutney

This museum is a great option for parents or gran-parents looking for a day-out with children. There seem to be various activities for children almost everyday, besides the permanent exhibition with baby care items and clothes and (the coolest part I’d say) toys history – probably very surprising for the electronic-age kids. Some ‘play stations’ in the middle of the exhibition let the children experience old toys and games (and adults reminisce on them).

There is also a reasonable big space for temporary exhibitions. The ‘On their Own’ exhibition was extremely well executed, I’m very curious about the next ones.
For the hungry ones, the now ever-present Benuga Café has good coffee and pastries (but no real personality – they seem to be in every museum now!)

Avatar for Sharmin C

Lord only knows how many times I've been. A family favourite. Need to pay them another visit soon ^^

Avatar for Nicky G

Museum of Childhood. 50% happy nostalgia, 50% creep factor. Sadly no Jurassic Park action figures but featuring an excellent Playmobil Native American settlement, alternate 'Daisy' doll heads that didn't make the cut and Victorian rocking horses with real pony skin.

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Avatar for Rosie T
Staff Writer

An all-time favourite. I remember visiting here as a child and when my bus goes by in the morning on my way into work I always smile. It's been about a year and a bit since I last visited, waiting for my nieces to be a little older and I will bring them :)

Avatar for sp

I love the museum of children hood it's a good place to visit, it's nice they do crochet lessons there for free it's great to go there

Avatar for Olive Road

Huge space filled with stuff that takes you back to your childhood. Great for a rainy day with the kids

Avatar for HAHC

Loved for its openness to children's play. Truly interactive, creative space where you can learn and relax. Great stories and art classes every day in term time.

Avatar for tuhin i


Events - St George's Day

© Cecil Sharp House Choir

Saturday 25 April

Join in with a day of music, dance, arts and crafts to celebrate St George's Day!

Discover the delights of English folk music and dance traditions with Trad Academy, who will be here to perform and invite you to join in! Take part in a ceilidh dance and tap your feet to the hoofing of the flat footers!

We'll be attempting to raise the roof of the Museum in a ‘best of British’ musical feast with performances by the Instrumental folk group, Cecil Sharp House Choir, Trad Academy’s Sea Shanty Choir and Becontree Brass Band.

Art and craft activities will reinterpret St George's flag, celebrating Britishness in all its rich diversity.

Come and dress up and pose for a portrait shot in the Explorers Photo Studio, celebrating the rich culture of our post-colonial England. The Photo Studio will also be open 14.00-16.30 on Thursday 23 and Friday 24 April.

Here's our packed schedule for the day!
12.15-12.35 Sea Shanty Choir
12.45-13.30 Becontree Brass Band
13.35-14.05 Cecil Sharp House Choir
14.10-14.55 Becontree Brass Band
15.00-15.20 Flat foot demonstration
15.25-15.55 Ceilidh
15.55-16.15 Instrumental tunes
16.15-16.35 Sea Shanty Choir
16.35-16.45 Sea Shanty Choir and dance

Free / All ages / Drop in

Avatar for dave a

Great museum - packed with stuff - nicely laid out and too much to see in just one visit - looking forward to going again soon.

Avatar for mother of one

Great day out with children. There are lots of play areas which are educational and fun for children. Cafe serves delicious food for children and adults which is not expensive. Good gift shop as you'd expect from V&A. We will return when my daughter is older. I think children will get most out if visit ages 3-7. Would have given five stars if there was a cloakroom.

Avatar for Lisa Adda

Great Place to visit and the best to spend good quality time with children, my children loved it!

Avatar for mother of two

Brilliant fun for 0-10 year olds (at least), with a surprising number of interesting little corners and interactive zones packed away in what looks like a single, big space. My only criticism is that the cafe is not as great for kids as you might (reasonably) expect.