Last week I popped across London to Bethnal Green to visit a museum I really love. The Museum of Childhood is a magical celebration of toys, games and everything that makes childhood memorable. It’s also owned by the V&A so you can expect to see the same creative celebration of objects as a way to tell us about the past, as you would at the larger London museum.
I’ve visited the museum several times I remember going on a school trip as a small child as well as returning with my own children several times. I love the mix of historical toys and more recent retro and modern toys, many of which I recognise and remember playing with when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s. Whatever age you are you’ll find something to make you feel nostalgic and I just find the place completely magical.
On this occasion I was drawn to the museum by their latest major exhibition. Small Stories walks us through the history of the home through dolls houses and each tiny little world has a story behind it. I’m sure it’s hard to find anyone who is not drawn to dolls houses, there is something so enchanting about seeing the world in miniature, and this exhibition has some of the most interesting examples I’ve seen.
The choice of houses on display are really well-chosen to show both different periods of history and also different sizes of house and classes of people. The stories of each house are told through the dolls themselves as characters. Not only is the history of the actual dolls house displayed on the wall but also a little story about the dolls themselves which my girls found really engaging. The interpretation definitely made the displays accessible to both adults and children. There were also two rooms which had been created for children to play in, so it was like stepping into a doll’s house which they really loved.
I was particularly interested in a miniature version of a house from the St Helier Estate as me and Rob bought our first house there and it was amazing to see what it might have looked like in the 1940s when the doll’s house was created.
My favourite piece from the exhibition was the Whiteladies House, this amazing dolls house was created in the 1930s and plays homage to Modernist villas of the era. It shows a house party and I just love all the details including the car in the garage and swimming pool.
There is so much to see at the exhibition and I’ve only featured a really small selection of pictures here. I’d highly recommend paying the museum a visit to see the dolls houses whether you are big or small.
The exhibition runs until 6th September
Find out more on the Museum of Childhood website.