De Matos Ryan has unveiled its competition-winning £3.9 million overhaul of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Grade II*-listed Museum of Childhood in east London
Earlier this year, the practice won a publicly tendered contract – worth an estimated £200,000 – to restore the historic 1872 ironwork building. It will deliver a ‘base build’ redesign of the museum’s interior spaces which host thousands of childhood objects from the 16th century to the present day.
The project – co-designed with children from local primary schools – will also deliver four new interactive galleries along with improved retail and catering areas, new back-of-house facilities, upgraded learning spaces and new toilets. An outdoor play area and new lower ground entrance will also be delivered.
The commission comes 11 years after Caruso St John completed a phased revamp of the venue, delivering a new entrance pavilion and improved visitor facilities. Interviews are currently being held for a separate team to deliver the project’s £478,000 fit-out contract.
De Matos Ryan’s proposed £3.3 million overhaul of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) Grade II*-listed Museum of Childhood in east London
De Matos Ryan directors Angus Morrogh-Ryan and Jose Esteves de Matos said: ‘This is an exciting prospect for everyone involved, and for the evolution of innovative museums for children and families of the future. For co-design with children to be meaningful requires courage and trust. The initial ideas we’ve uncovered, working with our community groups and the V&A, are hugely exciting and reveal the museum’s true potential.’
V&A director Tristram Hunt said: ‘The V&A Museum of Childhood is beloved by its local community with a unique and wonderful story to tell as east London’s first museum. This flagship project for the V&A will unlock the V&A Museum of Childhood’s huge potential to fire imagination, spark ingenuity, and become the world’s most joyful museum for children, families and young people. It will support art and design education and help fulfil the museum’s ambition to inspire future generations of artists, designers, architects, engineers and makers.’
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.
The revamp comes after a growth in visitor numbers and school visits. It aims to double the number of items the museum can display from its 35,000-strong collection.
The redevelopment is the latest project to emerge from the V&A’s 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 year.