Young V&A review: It’s like a playdate at the grandest house in the UK

As Young V&A flings open its doors – the UK’s new national museum for children in Bethnal Green – Charlotte Cripps tests out the revamp with her seven-year-old daughter

Charlotte Cripps
Monday 26 June 2023 10:30 BST
Kaleidoscopic staircase reflecting the ‘Microlino Electric Vehicle’, 2019, at the new Young V&A museum
Kaleidoscopic staircase reflecting the ‘Microlino Electric Vehicle’, 2019, at the new Young V&A museum (© Jamie Stoker courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

I’m standing looking at a kaleidoscope-inspired spiral staircase that reflects everything around it. It’s dazzling. “Wow!” says my seven-year-old daughter, Lola, standing next to me. Her eye has been caught by a different delight: an electric car suspended from the ceiling that looks like it’s shooting off the upper gallery.

This is the breathtaking entrance to the Young V&A in Bethnal Green, which has been rebranded from the V&A Museum of Childhood and given a £13m transformation. Less than two weeks after the National Portrait Gallery reopened its doors to the public after a three-year closure and £44m revamp, London has another shiny new culture spot to take the kids – and it’s a winner.

As part of the Young V&A’s new look and feel, it’s no longer being marketed as a museum about childhood, but a dynamic new national museum for children aged 0 to 14. The shell of the 1872 building remains the same – but otherwise, that’s where the similarities end. With natural light flooding in through the newly uncovered skylights, it has a contemporary open-plan feel. The curated spaces, aimed at youngsters from babies to teenagers and featuring 2,000 objects from the V&A’s collection of art and design, have transformed the place into a cross between the Design Museum and a swanky Montessori nursery school.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in