Young V&A is set to open its doors this weekend as London’s major new free destination for children, families, and young people, after an extensive £13m, three year redevelopment.
Previously the V&A Museum of Childhood, Young V&A showcases the transformative power of creativity, displaying inspiring stories of children’s ingenuity alongside approximately 2,000 works from the V&A’s collections.
Dating from 2,300 BC to today and from all around the world, objects are displayed in unique and imaginative ways to ensure Young V&A is packed full of serious fun and playful learning at every turn.
The redevelopment is the most significant intervention in the Grade II* listed building’s 150-year history, and has completely transformed the museum. Encompassing three new galleries, a suite of new, larger and better equipped workshop and learning spaces, a purpose built 515m² gallery for showcasing major exhibitions, a new shop and café, the entire museum has been redesigned around children, young people, schools and families. Over 22,000 schoolchildren, teachers, Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and community groups, families and local people helped shape the project, and their impact and ideas can be seen throughout the museum.
As part of the development of the design, AOC - an East London-based practice of architects and designers led by Tom Coward, Gill Lambert and Geoff Shearcroft - set up 'Open Studio' - a collaborative space to explore, test and develop the future museum. AOC worked alongside Graphic Thought Facility; Harmonic Kinetic; FranklinTill; ZNA studio; Lockerdell Consulting; Greenways; De Matos Ryan; Price & Myers; P3r; Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design; GOSS; and James Edgar to bring the finished space to life.
The new galleries Play, Imagine and Design are designed with different age groups in mind, from babies to teens, but open for all to explore. Each features new interactives and activities inspired by the collections, where children and their families can have fun together expressing their creativity, with immersive optical illusions, a performance area and stage, a marble run, self-portrait maker and open design studio.
The project celebrates and restores the building’s iconic Victorian architecture – original windows have been uncovered allowing natural light to flood into the space, and the 19th century marble mosaic floor has been restored and revealed. Spaces have been designed with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, with significant improvements to circulation and noise, and galleries designed consciously around the needs of SEND visitors. Young V&A will be a cultural and educational resource for schools across the country, offering self-guided visits and workshops year-round, from this October.
The V&A believes in the transformative power of creativity, and that it’s critical we work - across all our sites - to support and develop the next creative generation. Young V&A has been designed with and for our youngest audiences – inspired by the way we learn, play and experience the world - Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A
To celebrate the opening, Young V&A is hosting a free Summer Festival. Taking place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 July, visitors are invited to explore everything the museum has to offer, with a series of fun activities and performances from local talent.
All images courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London