Spotlight on: The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

Photo by Colin O'Brien, Museum of Childhood

Recently, I paid an impromptu visit to The V&A’s Museum of Childhood with a research group I am part of, primarily to look at children’s and doll’s clothes made from muslin. I have been to the museum many times, to see its engaging and child-friendly temporary exhibitions as well as its perennially pleasure-inducing permanent collection of toys, games, children’s clothing and personal effects. You could say that the Museum of Childhood is a museum of “fashions in childhood,” as well as “childhood fashion.”

19th century pincusion to celebrate the birth of a new baby

I had these! The Heart Family, USA 1984

The museum is a treasure trove of memory activating objects, and “I had one of those!,” is often exclaimed by adults re-discovering long-forgotten favourite toys in glass cases.

A patchwork dress made from castoffs during World War 2 worn by a London child

On my recent visit, I tuned in especially to the wealth of fashion information to be gleaned from doll’s and children’s clothing in the permanent collection displays.

Display of children's and baby's clothing and accessories

A fashion model doll from the 1970s

Promotional costume for a cloth book publisher, 1930s

18th century fashion doll

Everyday childreb's wear of the 1980s - Roger Hargreaves' Little Miss and Mr. Man print skirt

The Museum of Childhood is in my opinion an under-appreciated gem, and a place I wander into often, as it is one of the closest museum’s to where I live in East London.  If you are visiting London, or have lived here for years, put it on your radar – and be ready to reconnect with your inner child while also satisfying your adult intellect.

One example from the museum's unrivalled collection of historic dollhouses

Display of fashion dolls from the 20th century

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