Glass boxes housing an array of toy treasures spanning over 100 years. It was great fun for my husband and I to spot well-loved toys from our own childhood and to share these memories with our own little ones, not that they were that interested in our nostalgia!
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
It was a cold, damp Sunday and we were keen to tire out, sorry, stimulate and educate our two children. Something new, not too far, easy to time with the little ones’ nap, easy access and plenty to keep the monkeys occupied, not too much to ask, right? But where? Godstone Farm, too cold. The Maritime Museum, too close. The Sky Line, too quick. The Science Museum, too far. Plus we have done them all numerous times. A friend had recommended The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green so we decided to give that a go.
The best part of the day was spent on the hands on displays for the children to use and explore. These were spread over both floors. Everything from a large wooden car, dolls houses, Lego stations, light boxes, a sensory space, rocking horses, magnet toys, train sets, building blocks, a play kitchen, dressing up and even a large indoor sandpit and two punch and Judy theatres complete with puppets. It really was a fantastic place for the children to explore on a cold, wet spring day. There were even deckchairs by the sand pit and puppet theatres so us adults could rest our weary legs! Our children loved it and by no means did everything. If you have young children go, you won’t be disappointed.
Overall a great place to visit and I would highly recommend it. A little advice, try to get there for opening at 10am. For us this meant it was quiet, both in the museum and on the roads, and the children pretty much had free reign. We stopped for lunch in the café, delicious, and returned home once the children were flagging and the little ones nap was calling. We fell into the car exhausted, happy and with little fingers clutching pocket money toys they had negotiated out of us. Both children are keen to return soon and, to be honest, so am I.
Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9PA.
Cafe: The museum is centred a round a large central space which houses the shop and award-winning benugo café too, I can recommend both the bacon sarnie and the cake! There is space to eat your own picnic outdoors, on picnic tables. Highchairs and kids menus are available.
Toilets: ‘Toilets are located on the Lower Ground Floor. Baby changing facilities, nappy bins and family-sized cubicles are available in both the male and female toilets. The Quiet Room on the Lower Ground Floor has an en-suite family-sized toilet cubicle. An accessible toilet is also available. Collect a RADAR key from the Information Desk to unlock it.’ (www.vam.ac.uk/moc/visit).
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: There are so many amazing facilities available for disabled, elderly, young and D/deaf visitors. For full information see www.vam.ac.uk/moc/visit.
Parking: We were feeling lazy so took advantage of the lack of a congestion charge on a Sunday and free on street parking (readily available on Cambridge Heath Road) and drove to the Museum (E2 9PA for your SatNav). The museum says: ‘Free on-site parking can be arranged for visitors with specific access needs. The car park is accessed via Victoria Park Square, to the rear of the Museum. To book a space and for more detailed directions, call 020 8983 5200. The nearest pay and display bays can be found on Cambridge Heath Road. TheMuseum is not in the congestion charging zone.’
Train: It is also easily accessible by rail, it is 5 minutes from Bethnal Green Underground and 10 minutes from Cambridge Heath or Bethnal Green. The nearest main line station is Liverpool Street, which is less than a five minute Underground journey from Bethnal Green. The Museum is a short bus ride or 20-25 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street (Bus 8 or 388) and Whitechapel (Bus 254 or 106) Overground stations.
Tube: The Museum is less than five minutes walk from Bethnal Green Underground station. Unfortunately Bethnal Green Underground has no lift, visit Transport for London for more information on public transport accessibility.
Bus: D6, 106, 254, 309 and 388 stop outside the Museum and 8, 26, 55 and 48 stop nearby.
Phone: 020 8983 5200 – Open Monday to Sunday, 10.00-17.45.
Email: [email protected].
The museum is free and they have regular free drop in sessions suitable for three to 12 year olds throughout the week. There is a full list on their extensive and informative website (www.vam.ac.uk/moc/.) but when we went there were two interactive sensory story telling sessions, an object handling and exploration session and a creative arts and crafts session. We didn’t attend but they did look fantastic and all are welcome. Also head to the information desk to borrow their Montessori Family packs, including map, activities, storybooks and toys.
Review by Rebecca Evans.