Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood
A great day out
The Children's Museum contains the largest collection of early Victorian childhood memorabilia, artifacts and some of the earliest toys in the world but more than that.
It is a place of magic and wonder to the eyes of a child. Looking at the intricate Chinese and Japanese dioramas kept me spellbound for endless hours. Remember when you were a kid and how everything was magical.
The Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood to give it, it's full title, is a treasure trove of early children's toys. The museum has strong historical links with the British Royal family via Prince Albert. (August 26,1819 - December 14,1861)
It contains ancient dolls, early Victorian puppets and modern day dolls, children's pedal cars and many mechanical toys including working Zoetropes, and other early moving image devices.
It contains children's toys from many far flung places around the world. The photos displayed here, represent just a fraction of what there is to see.
The building itself is impressive
As you approach the museum building, you may be interested to know; that it too has a unique architectural history.
This impressive Grade II listed building, was built in 1872, and used a donated prefabricated roof, from an earlier exhibition in South Kensington West London.
NB: Grade II listing, means that the building must be maintained and preserved for the nation.
Prefabrication on this scale was a relatively new idea at the time, and the roof is still in good condition today.
Victorian dances were quite risque!
Toy railways are always popularClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visiting the Museum
Built during the reign of Queen Victoria & Albert in one of the poorest parts of London's East End. It is just 50 yards from Bethnal Green Underground Station and well served by surface transport. It is very easy to find and loved by East Enders,
This was part of an overall plan to improve the area, in order to stop the mass exodus of the urban middle classes, for the leafy suburbs on the new fangled London Underground Railway
Along with laying out of the glorious Victoria Park, just a few hundred yards away.
It inspired many to stay in this part of London and gentrify the area. It still has that gentrified feel about it today.
Zoetrope Early Moving Image Device
The museum gave the area a much needed financial and cultural boost. Prince Albert was keen on improving public education, and making London a more habitable place to live.
The idea for green spaces (green lungs) in cities, can be traced back to these early pioneers.
This was the actions of a caring man. It was also the realization of a astute leader.
To keep the finances coming in and the city ticking over and growing. Prince Albert needed to keep the middle class happy, and living in London's Bethnal Green.
What's the best selling toy of all time? LEGO™
Prince Albert had been instrumental in getting a massive development underway in South Kensington and the roof of the museum came from one of these buildings.
The museum in the early days displayed a wide variety of exhibits. In the 1920's it began to focus more on childhood and children's toys. Including toys that were made by children. So it is not surprising to find simple spinning tops and jump ropes in the collection.
As you will see in the photographs, some of the toys are very primitive and crude in construction. As you would expect from children using their imagination and whatever they had to hand.
Today's most popular toy is a simple concept of connecting bricks into whatever toy the child can imagine and allows endless hours of creativity.
The permutations give the child the potential to make just about anything. Many children still play with these simple building blocks into adulthood and in some cases it determines their careers.
Many Architects and Engineers will tell you that they got interested in building things from they childhood days playing with LEGO™
A Great Day Out
Admission was free. It's a wonderful experience to wander around all these ancient toys and wonder about the lives of the children that played with them.
Today the museum has the largest collection of toys and childhood artifacts in Britain. It is a centre for research and a great day out. Hope you get the chance to visit it someday.
Toys you rememberClick thumbnail to view full-size
Praxinoscope stop motion animation.
Wheelchair access and address
The museum has wheelchair access. It also has a good cafeteria and function rooms.
It is a less than one minute walk from Bethnal Green Tube Station and is served well by several bus routes from all sides of London.
It is situated in a very famous part of London and there are many other historic buildings in the area. For example.
Right next door to the museum is York Hall. This world famous boxing venue was also built in the Victorian era and across the street is Paradise Road from the song of the same name.
The Children's Museum is a great day out. I suggest you give it a visit and have a truly wonderful day.
Free Admission (donations welcome)
The V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9PA
International Dialing Codes Included
Tel: +44 (0)20 8983 5200
Fax: +44 (0)20 8983 5225 Free Admission
Opening And Closing Times 10.00-17.45 Monday-Sunday (last admission 17.30)
Closed Over Christmas 24, 25 and 26 December and 1 January every year
Your Museum Question
Have You Ever Heard Of A Praxinoscope?
© 2012 Micheal