- 1 Museum of Childhood London Review – Roam the Gnome visits!
- 2 The Front Room Gallery
- 3 The Creativity Gallery
- 4 The Moving Toys Gallery
- 5 Upstairs to The Childhood Galleries
- 6 Exhibitions
- 7 SUPER FUN for the kids – the Magical Museum Sleepover
- 8 The Inside Scoop
- 9 World Schooling Fun Facts– teaching your kids as you travel!
- 10 Eat and Drink
- 11 Our Top Tips!
- 12 Toadstool Rating (by the kids)
- 13 Instagram: Family Travel Ideas with Roam the Gnome
- 14 Click here to follow us!
Museum of Childhood London Review – Roam the Gnome visits!
Museum of Childhood London Review – This place sits at the top of our list of SUPER FUN places to visit with the kids in London AND it’s FREE! Who could ask for more.
The family can easily spend 1/2 a day here, but if my kids had their way, we would have stayed ALL day. There’s that much to see and do – kids activities, themed children’s trails where they can collect a leaflet, set off on a walking tour, find all the different historical objects throughout the museum and note down their answers, art and craft, opportunities to play with games and toys, YUMMY food to eat, and there’s a beautiful bookshop/toy shop to browse as you leave.
The Museum of Childhood London is arranged into four main galleries – theFront Room Gallery, the Moving Toys Gallery, the Creativity Gallery on the Ground Floor, and the Childhood Galleries on the first floor, along with the Special Exhibition space. Download a map of the Museum of Childhood London here
The Front Room Gallery
This was our first stop, and luckily we arrived just as the staff were conducting demos, and setting up games and toys for the kids to play with.
Such fun to see the old-school retro toys from MY childhood reappear, and to see the boys play with them with such gusto! We didn’t want to leave this room ever. But soon enough, it was time and we headed off to explore the rest of the museum.
The Creativity Gallery
One of the goals of the museum is to inspire imagination and creativity in children by giving them new, interesting and expanded opportunities to play, which they can use to fire up their own adventures. On the left hand side of the building, this interactive gallery has four sections to look at the ways children express their creativity (Imagine, Be Inspired, Explore and Make it Happen) and gives them chances to do so.
The Sensory Pod, a multi-sensory space in the Creativity Gallery, with it’s rainbow light beams, was SUPER FUN!
The dress up/storytelling space with the spinner guide in the Make Believe area at the far end captured Ned’s imagination for a while too.
The Moving Toys Gallery
Around the corner, we headed into the second gallery, divided into four sections – Moving Toys exhibition. Pushes and Pulls, Springs and Cogs, Circuits and Motors and Look See.
The Moving Toys Gallery has a wide variety of interactives for children to engage with, including Victorian rocking horses they can ride on, Robbie the Robot, Model trains they can watch, a peep show and zoetrope. Touchscreen interactives featuring moving toys games and quizzes are also situated throughout the gallery. There’s also plenty to see:
- pull-along toys
- complex clockwork and battery-operated toys.
- optical toys that create visual special effects.
- robotic toys
- jigsaw puzzles
- push and pull toys worked by strings – jumping jacks, yoyos, pull along toys, wrestling pairs, collapsing animals, spinning ballerinas and gymnasts, jumping jacks, and spinning monkeys
- structures where wooden cars, marbles, and Meccano vehicles roll around some kind of track from top to bottom (sometimes YOU build the track!) in the Gravity, magnetic and spinning cabinet
- moving and changing pictures cabinet (Phenakistocopes or Fantascopes from 1830 -1840)
Upstairs to The Childhood Galleries
The Childhood Galleries, located on the First Floor, has four sections that explore a different aspect of childhood – what home means, how babies are cared for, what children wear, and what children will be when they grow up.
There’s collections of:
- Old World historically and culturally important dolls and teddies
- Victorian dollhouses and ride-on toys
- teddy bears, tea parties and other mid-Century Toys
- model steam engines
- zoos and circuses – animal toys, jigsaws, books
- trains and vehicles – including Melody train!
- Fisher Price Toys
- seaside toys – bucket and spades, shovels, sifters, plastic trucks, floaties, swim rings
- musical instruments and toys for special occasions, including weddings, christenings and parties.
- examples of toys related to magic and fortune telling including magic sets, wands and tricks.
On the left side of the building, children can try on shoes to try on from throughout the ages, dress up and drive a bus, cook in a play kitchen with a dining table, and explore Lego. There’s also an under 3’s area at the back of the building.
On the right side, The Good Times area of the Childhood Galleries has a seaside area with large sandpit for children to play in, an accompanying jukebox, interactive Punch and Judy puppet stalls and hammock chairs for mum and dad who need a “seaside” rest! There’s also Board game tables with checkers and chess.
Next to the Childhood Galleries is an exhibition space. When we visited, the current exhibition was “At Home in a Doll’s House – Small Stories”. This was a chance to take a peek behind closed doors of the tiny inhabitants of 12 of the Museum’s most treasured doll houses through audio, lighting, and life-size recreations of some of the rooms, plus a specially commissioned Dream House where 20 of London’s best artists and designers were commissioned to create a magical miniature room.
The current exhibition (until 9th October 2016) is Clangers, Bagpuss and Co.
- Meet Bagpuss, see the Soup Dragon and behold Noggin the Nog. Oliver Postgate’s voice and Peter Firmin’s puppets shaped the childhood memories of millions since they started collaborating in the 1950s. As well as telling the story of Bagpuss and The Clangers, the exhibition will go behind the scenes of some of their other creations; Pogles Wood, Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. Go into the world of Smallfilms to discover original puppets, sets and filming equipment. See how characters developed, and learn how Oliver and Peter developed their stop-frame animation techniques.
An opportunity to see an exhibition is the cream on top. We definitely recommend this place if you are in London with kids. We underline that statement. The Museum of Childhood London totally deserves a SUPER DOOPER FUN 5-toadstool rating.
SUPER FUN for the kids – the Magical Museum Sleepover
Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 October. 7pm – 9am the next morning
£45 per person, Ages 7-12
After an evening of creative activities, a magical museum trail and storytelling, you’ll enjoy a special night’s sleep in the company of fairies, puppets, dolls and trains. You’ll then be able to have your breakfast on the Marble Floor of the Museum before it opens to the public the following morning.
Children must be accompanied by an adult (one adult: two children max). Full details about what to bring with you will be sent out prior to the event.
Book tickets here.
The Inside Scoop
Opening Hours & Entry Fees
- ADMISSION IS FREE!
- Open daily 10- 5.45pm. Last entry 5.30pm.
- Closed December 24-26, and 1st January.
The Museum runs free, drop-in, all ages activities for families every day, including tours, storytelling, table games, and arts and crafts. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Look out for a volunteer team member (blue shirt) if you have any questions.
- Monday to Friday: 2pm to 2.30pm – Animal Magic sensory storytelling for the under fives; 2.30pm to 4.00pm – Art Smarts art and craft sessions with make and takes.
- Saturday and Sunday. 10.30- 11.00 – Animal Magic (see above); 11.15-11.45 – Explore sessions where children can get up close, watch demos, and have a go of childhood objects, toys, and games; 2pm – 4pm – Art Smarts (see above.)
- Phone: 020 8983 5200 (Switchboard)
Underground, Bethnal Green, Central Line, Zone 2
- The Museum is less than five minutes walk from Bethnal Green Underground station.
- The Museum is a short bus ride or 20-25 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street (Bus 8 or 388) and Whitechapel (Bus 254 or 106) Overground stations.
- The Museum is less than 10 minutes walk from both Cambridge Heath and Bethnal Green railway stations. The nearest main line station is Liverpool Street, which is less than a five minute Underground journey from Bethnal Green.
- D6, 106, 254, 309 and 388 stop outside the Museum and 8, 26, 55 and 48 stop nearby.
- The Museum is less than a five minute cycle ride from Regents Canal. Bike stands are available in the Museum grounds. A Barclays Cycle Hire docking station is situated across the road from the Museum.
- The nearest pay and display bays can be found on Cambridge Heath Road. The Museum is not in the congestion charging zone.
Location and Map
- Address: V&A Museum of Childhood London, Cambridge Heath Road, London. E29PA.
- There’s a few lounges and chairs dotted around where you can discreetly breastfeed while your other kids play. Breastfeeding is welcome anywhere in the Museum.
- Toilets are located on the Lower Ground Floor. Baby changing facilities, nappy bins and family-sized cubicles are available in both the male and female toilets. The Quiet Room on the Lower Ground Floor has an en-suite family-sized toilet cubicle and a bottle warmer.
- A buggy park is located near the stairs in the Front Room Gallery. Items are left at the owner’s risk.
- The front lift can access all floors, including the Lower Ground Floor (for access to toilets and baby changing), Ground Floor (entrance / exit, shop and cafe), Mezzanine (Moving Toys and Creativity galleries) and First Floor (Childhood galleries).
World Schooling Fun Facts– teaching your kids as you travel!
- Did you know that in the 1700’s, the nobility visited health spas, many of these were on the coast. It was from here that the ‘seaside holiday’ concept took shape, and soon there was a whole seaside entertainment industry that continues today with donkey rides, amusements on the pier, bandstands, rock and candyfloss.
Eat and Drink
- Cafe Benugo on the Marble Floor at the back of the museum is open from 10am to 5pm. They sell lunches, fresh sandwiches, salads, cakes and award-winning coffee, including a kids ‘pick and mix’ menu. We were really impressed with the range of ‘take-away’ foods on offer – healthy, delicious AND reasonably priced. That’s another thing to love about kids museums. If there’s a cafe on site, it’s always well priced and affordable, including drinks.
- Highchairs are available from Benugo café.
- For visitors wishing to eat their own packed lunch, outdoor picnic tables are located in the Museum’s grounds.
Our Top Tips!
- The Okido Children’s Science Magazine can be purchased here. So cool!
- Free WiFi is available throughout the Museum.
- Check out their Facebook page to keep up with current events
- The Museum of Childhood London hosts children’s parties! A private room is available for hire on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 1pm or 2.30pm to 5.30pm and they’ll provide all the activities to keep the kids entertained. These activities can even be themed! (Popular themes include Puppets, Superheros, Pirates, or Princesses.) Click here for details.
- The book shop. Do not pass by. SO many beautiful children’s books, design books, science books and lovely things for kids and adults. Plus fun toys, some of which the kids might be able to buy with their pocket money.
- Just outside the Museum, on your left as you head back towards the station, is this lovely park. Nice spot for a post-museum run.
- If you are thinking about a family trip to London, visit here to find ALL the family-friendly info you’ll need on SUPER DOOPER fun things to do and see, places to eat, and where to stay to this fab city.
Toadstool Rating (by the kids)
Family Travel Ideas with Roam the Gnome