Museum of Childhood London

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London has some of the best museums in the world and the completely fabulous thing about them is, they’re free. The Museum of Childhood, London, also known as Young V&A is perhaps a lesser-known museum, it doesn’t stand up against the South Kensington giants, but it’s well worth a visit if you have time when you’re in London.

This is a great smaller museum in London for kids and it’s located in Bethnal Green, East London, our post tells you more about this museum, how to get there, and its opening times.

The Museum Of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood comes under the umbrella of the V&A, the Victoria and Albert, specialising in art and design and one of the South Kensington big 3 musems.

This is our review of the Museum of Childhood, London.

If you’re looking for things to do in London with kids, that are maybe a little different, be sure to check out London’s quirky, unique smaller museums.

There are many smaller museums, like The Museum of Childhood, and they’re all worth visiting.

Museum of Childhood Opening Times

Currently, the museum is undergoing renovations, which are projected to finish during July 2023. So this museum, now being called the Young V&A, is due to be open for school summer holidays 2023.

For more information on when this museum will open and it’s opening hours, visit the Museum of Childhood / Young V And A website here.

How to Get to the Museum of Childhood, London

The museum is located in East London and is a 50-meter walk to the Bethnal Green Tube station on the Central Line of the London Underground. So if you’re looking for something to do near Benthal Green, look no further.

There are also 2 nearby bus stations, both within a hundred meters. The buses that stop here include the 106, 254, 388, 309, D3, D6 and the N253. All of this makes the Children’s Museum incredibly easy to get to.

What does the Museum of Childhood Offer?

London’s Museum of Childhood is a relatively small museum but don’t judge it on its size.

Museum of Childhood London world travel family travel blog
The building housing the Museum was purpose built and first opened in 1871

The building housing the collection is really interesting.

It appeared to me to be a re-purposed industrial construction, or maybe even swimming pool, but it turns out, it was purpose-built as a museum and was first opened in 1871.

The mosaic floor which grabs your attention immediately was laid by female prisoners from Woking Gaol.

Adults can find all the toys of their childhood and tell their children how much better toys were back in the day.

I found my favourite doll, Sindy on the shelves, boy did she have a big head! Coincidentally there’s also A Sindy Dolls Museum in Sweden.

Sindy dolls Museum f Childhood London. World Travel Family travel blog
Sindy Dollls. It’s been a few years since I saw one of these!

My brother was into Action Man back in the 70’s, he owned every item in the museum. Why can’t you buy things like this anymore? They were great.

Action Man at the Museum of Childhood London. World Travel Family travel blog
Action Man, one of the best toys ever!

Children can have some hands-on play time. There is a sand pit, rocking horses, Punch and Judy puppets and a kitchen set up to play with.

A lot of mums with pre-schoolers use facilities like this as a place to hang out, particularly on rainy days. Once the little ones have had a play, there is a great cafe to enjoy.

Fish finger sandwiches were on the menu. What do you think, wrong or right?

Food at The Museum of Childhood London. World Travel Family trvel blog
Food and coffee available on site. What do you think about fish finger sandwiches? Tell me in the comments.

The museum runs a busy schools programme and has quiet days for children with special educational needs, that’s great to see.

The dolls house collection is stunning. Queen Mary’s dolls house still has framed family photos of King George on the miniature tables.

It’s not just about the toys, the museum also houses artefacts associated with children through the ages.

You can inspect children’s clothes, shoes, prams and chairs. It’s a good lesson in social history and helps the kids get to grips with eras. It’s great for them to learn something about how children of all social classes used to live.

Museum of Childhood London. Toys. Family travel blog
How we used to live at the Museum of Childhood.

What’s near the Museum of Childhood?

Just down the road from the museum of Childhood is a beautiful statue of an upside-down staircase. It stands in memory of one of the worst civilian tragedies of WW2, where 173 people died in a crush caused by the rush to get to the Bethnal Green Station air-raid shelter.

You can learn more about the memorial and the history behind it here. (Opens in new tab.) It might be a bit morbid for younger children, but it’s a good example of history for older kids learning about the past.

Here’s a map to show what’s near the museum.

Museum of Childhood Entry Costs

The Young V&A, Prior to the refurbishment was free to ented, so it’s great if you’re looking for some free activities to spend a day enjoying.

If you’re looking for other free things to do in London with kids click through here, London has loads of free attractions for kids and families.

What We Thought of The Museum of Childhood

We thought the Museum of Childhood was worth visiting, infact it was great, I was surprised by how much my children enjoyed playing with the toys, I thought they’d be too old, but at 10 and 8, they’re clearly still happy with imaginary play.

I wouldn’t put the museum on a must-see list as I would the Natural History Museum, The British Museum or the Science Museum (click to see our science museum post), but it’s a great half-day out and only a few stops on the tube from central London. Allow an hour or so to see the Museum of Childhood, longer if you plan to use the restaurant.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

3 thoughts on “Museum of Childhood London”

  1. This one will have to wait until/if we have grandchildren (or can borrow someone else’s grandchildren) and we visit London with said grandchildren. Unlikely, but I’ve learned to never say never. One of our sons is a world traveler, so who knows where he might end up and find to beget a child.

  2. I’ve been to London many times and never heard about this museum. It has to go on my list of places to go the next time I’m in the city. Thanks for sharing.

    As for the fish finger sandwiches…there’s nothing wrong with that. It brings back memories from my childhood.

  3. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories! I’m glad you had a lovely day at the Museum of childhood, I’ve always had a soft spot for it. We used to live not far from there and I taught in the area as well. The school was walking distance from the museum and we would take classes down regularly for a morning or afternoon and a picnic on the lawn out the front. Personally I loved seeing all the toys that I and played with as a child and when my mother visited she got all excited by the toys from the 50’s and 60’s as well. I agree, if you’ve got time and are afternoon out for free in London with kids I’d put it on the list. I think I’d give the fish finger sandwiches a miss though!


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