The V&A has a summer of fun lined up as it gets ready to celebrate 150 years since the opening of East London’s first ever museum.
Bethnal Green’s Young V&A, until recently known as the Museum of Childhood, closed temporarily in 2020 to undergo a major redevelopment, but up until then had been welcoming visitors since 1872.
The 150-year anniversary rolls around this Friday, at which point Young V&A will begin the countdown to its big reopening in summer 2023 as a national museum dedicated to children aged 14 and under.
Dr Helen Charman, director of Young V&A, said the venue will put “children and their creative futures front and centre”.
She added: “The World Economic Forum has made an urgent call to prioritise playful learning and help equip future generations with the creative, social and emotional skills they need to thrive in today’s complex world.
“Through harnessing the potential of the V&A collection to create moments of joy, inspiration and wonder, empowering young people to unleash their own creativity, Young V&A will do just that.”
With the museum still out of bounds for now, staff will instead celebrate its landmark 150th birthday by taking its programme out into the community with the Reinvent Festival – its most ambitious to date.
The festival launches on 24 June with an online summit, ‘Sparking Creative Futures’, headlined by local children’s author Ed Vere and live-illustrated by Beano‘s youngest ever artist, Zoom Rockman.
On 26 June, Young V&A will take part in Rich Mix’s ‘Everyone a Maker’ event, featuring free opportunities for families to play and create together.
July will see the museum run storytelling assemblies in Tower Hamlets schools. The sessions are designed to improve children’s literacy and confidence by asking them to team up to craft a unique story involving ‘escaped’ museum objects.
Other events include a pop-up at the Olympic Park’s Great Get Together on 23 July, where children will be able to build things using playful materials provided by Hackney architect Emilie Queney.
Young V&A will later pop up again with a two-day photography studio at Oxford House, with professional snapper Rehan Jamil capturing shots of children that will eventually go on display at the museum.
An appearance at the All Points East festival’s family weekend on 21-22 August rounds off Young V&A’s summer. Staff will put on creative design challenges and run an ‘Imagination Playground’ for little ones to explore.
Catherine Ritman-Smith, the museum’s head of learning and engagement, said: “We’re so excited to celebrate our 150th birthday and reconnect with our visitors as part of our Reinvent Festival.
“It’s fantastic to work with so many incredible creatives, organisations and venues across East London and beyond to make it happen.
“We’re experimenting with new ideas and activities and looking forward to giving you a glimpse of what we have in store for you when Young V&A opens next summer – we hope you’ll come and celebrate with us and join in the fun.”
A full list of what the museum has in store during the year-long countdown to its reopening can be found here, with more to be added in the coming months.