The V&A Museum of Childhood in London is home to the largest collection of childhood objects in the UK ranging in date from the 1600’s to the present day. As you arrive at Bethnal Green in the East End of London, an area full of charm and history, you will see the lovely 19th century building that houses the museum. It is well worth a visit for this reason alone, with its bright and airy Victorian cast iron galleries, tall ceiling, balconies and striking floor. The museum was founded in 1872 as the Bethnal Green Museum and was designed to bring cultural education to the East End population.
Originally there were food and animal products on display, some 18th century French Art and a number of gifts that had been given to the Royal Family. It wasn’t until the 1920s it began to focus on services for children when a new curator, Arthur Sabin, realised just how popular the museum was with children. It was only then that more child friendly exhibits were put on display and Queen Mary donated some of her own toys to the museum. In 1974 the director of the V&A, Sir Roy Strong, defined it as a specialist museum of childhood. Today there are around 450,000 visitors a year who come to explore this treasure trove of toys in this free entry museum.