Young V&A to open as a museum designed with kids, for kids

With experiences for babies and teens, Young V&A announces a programme that moves between Minecraft, Ghibli and more.

2 March 2023


While it might seem unimaginable to already be thinking about the summer holidays, just before school break Young V&A will launch as a museum specifically for those aged between 0-14. Formerly the V&A Museum of Childhood – East London’s first public museum – the new national space is the result of a three-year revamp project from the V&A. Rather than being a museum about childhood, the Young V&A has been designed collaboratively with children to be shaped directly around their interests. It will open with a mission to “inspire the next generation of artists, designers, performers and practitioners”, says a release.

A total of 2,000 pieces from the V&A’s existing collection will feature within the museum, though Young V&A will function as a selection of experiences as well as an exhibition space. It is split into three galleries – Play, Imagine and Design – based on research into childhood development. According to the museum, this structuring will “help children build the skills and creative confidence they need to thrive in our fast-changing world”.

Experiences aimed at younger attendees include a tactile sensory play space and a sandpit. Elsewhere, the museum launches with a finger skateboard park; a story-telling stage for writers; a design studio, where children can learn from leading designers; and a game design room specifically for teenagers, called The Arcade.


The Self-Portrait by Quentin Blake. Limited-edition print from the Ordinary Life in Vincent Square series, 2010 (Copyright © Quentin Blake, 2010 / Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Young V&A released information about its 2023 programme as part of the announcement. The first exhibition will be Japan: Myths to Manga, exploring how Japan has “influenced popular culture, technology and design”. The release continues: “Alongside a series of sensory interactives and activities, the exhibition features films such as My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Ponyo (2008) from the iconic animation studio, Studio Ghibli, a manga-inspired coat by Comme des Garçons, and dizzying heel-less shoes by Noritaka Tatehana, plus plenty of Pokémon.”

There will be an interactive Minecraft installation held in The Arcade, which tours real and imaginary worlds created by Minecraft players globally. A portrait display, This Is Me, will feature works from Dapo Adeola, Singh Burman, Quentin Blake and more. Works by young people will be represented with a display showing tech solutions made by teenagers, like a human-elephant conflict device, called EleVoc 2022, made by Chinmayi Ramasubramanian, aged 14, and a gas leak detector from 11-year-old Sashrika Das.

“Children and young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and its aftermath, alongside the dramatic fall in creative education in schools,” says Dr Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A. “Young V&A is our response: a flagship project investing in creativity with and for young people and their futures. We are using our stunning collection of art, design and performance to open the nation’s favourite design club for all children and young people.”

The former V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green will open as Young V&A on 1 July 2023.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1989, Hong Kong, in the conservation studio before moving to Young V&A’s Imagine Gallery (Copyright © Jamie Stoker / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)


My Little Pony: Blossom, 1983, Hong Kong, undergoing conservation in preparation for display in Young V&A’s Play Gallery (Copyright © Jamie Stoker / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)


View of the pre-walker and toddler zone of the Play Gallery at Young V&A (Copyright © Picture Plane / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)


View within The Stage area of the Imagine Gallery at Young V&A (Copyright © Picture Plane / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)


View across the Design Gallery at Young V&A (Copyright © Picture Plane / Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

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Studio Ghibli: My Neighbour Totoro (Copyright © Studio Ghibli, 1988)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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