The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is recruiting a design team for a major £3.3 million overhaul of its Grade II*-listed Museum of Childhood in east London
The winner of the estimated £200,000 contract will restore the historic 1872 ironwork building and provide a ‘base build’ redesign of its interior spaces which host thousands of childhood objects from the 16th century to the present day.
The project will deliver three new permanent galleries, two flexible exhibition spaces, improved retail and catering areas, new back-of-house facilities, upgraded learning spaces and new toilets. The commission comes 10 years after Caruso St John completed a phased revamp of the venue, delivering a new entrance pavilion and improved visitor facilities.
In its brief, the V&A says it ‘is looking for an exciting and ambitious design team to transform the interior spaces of the Museum of Childhood. This project sits within the broader context of our FuturePlan, an ambitious programme of development in which the best contemporary designers are creating exciting new galleries and visitor facilities, while revealing and restoring the beauty of our original buildings.
‘The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world. The Museum of Childhood is the largest institution of its kind in the world. As part of the V&A estate, the mission of the museum is to explore art, design and performance through the material culture of childhood and to hold in trust the nation’s childhood collections.’
The Museum of Childhood opened in 1872 and was originally known as the East London Museum of Art & Science and later as the Bethnal Green Museum. It was created from an ironwork structure originally used by the main V&A museum in South Kensington and featured interiors designed by James William Wild.
The landmark building on Bethnal Green Road has featured items relating to childhood since the 1920s and was rebranded as a specialist museum in the 1970s. Caruso St John’s scheme upgraded the venue’s entrance, learning spaces and visitor facilities.
The latest project follows increasing growth in visitor numbers and school visits and aims to allow to double the number of items the museum can display from its 35,000-strong collection.
The winning multidisciplinary team will restore the Grade II*-listed building, upgrade its permanent galleries and learning spaces, and design temporary exhibitions. Planned new features include a 650m² interactive ‘A-to-Z’ exhibition of children’s objects, an art gallery, a children’s design studio, and a play area.
A heritage strategy, access strategy, lighting design, acoustic survey and environmental strategy will also be required. Additional tenders may also be launched for individual gallery spaces in the future.
Shortlisted teams will receive £2,000 each to submit tenders and attend interviews. Unsuccessful tenderers will also receive a £1,500 honorarium while the winner will is expected to be given the design commission.
The redevelopment is the latest project to emerge from the V&A’s ongoing FuturePlan programme which has engaged high-profile architects such as MUMA, David Kohn, Friend & Company, and Amanda Levete. Carmody Groarke completed a new members room for the V&A last month.
The deadline for applications is 11 December.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Victoria and Albert Museum
Tel: +44 2079422229