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Young V&A re-opens in Bethnal Green as the UK’s only dedicated museum for children

Tower Hamlets parents rejoice: After three years of refurbishment, Bethnal Green’s Young V&A re-opens with fresh ways to educate and entertain our children.

The free Young V&A Museum opened in Bethnal Green on Saturday 1 July, following a three-year long redesign and redevelopment process. It is the UK’s first museum of art, design and performance created with and for young people, catering for children up to the age of 14.  

The £13 million redevelopment of the previously named Museum of Childhood is the most significant in the Grade-II listed building’s history. The 150-year old building on Cambridge Heath Road has a rich heritage, and was East London’s first museum. 

The redesign involves the addition of three new galleries, named Play, Imagine and Design, constructed with different age groups in mind. 

A child looking at bikes display at the Young V&A Museum

The redesign involves the addition of three new galleries, named Play, Imagine and Design, constructed with different age groups in mind. The galleries display 2,000 objects dating from 2,300 BC to now, including works from contemporary designers, artists and changemakers including Greta Thunberg, Bridget Riley, Miuccia Prada, Keith Haring, and David Hockney.

Redevelopment plans also prioritised accessibility and inclusivity. Interactive elements feature heavily in the galleries, with immersive optical illusions, a performance area and stage, self-portrait maker and open design studio.

Child playing in a tunnel in new Young V&A Museum in Behtnal Green

To celebrate their opening, the Young V&A is holding a free summer festival on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July. The festival will feature performances from Britain’s Got Talent finalists IMD Dance and the East London based Grand Union Youth Orchestra, as well as interactive activities: visitors can add to a large-scale installation which will grow over the weekend. 

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green, said of the opening: ‘Young V&A is an exceptional new cultural and educational resource. It is a museum that has held a special place in its local community for over 150 years. 

‘It will continue to bring significant benefits to local young people and their families, while welcoming visitors from all over the country to experience the diversity, dynamism, creativity and history of this extraordinary area of London.’

Interested in the local Arts scene? Read our interview with local artist Milou Stella.

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