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Festival to celebrate Museum of Childhood before two-year closure for refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:10 18 February 2020

Artist's impression of one of the galleries at the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOC

Artist's impression of one of the galleries at the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOC

AOC

Peter Rabbit and War Horse are among the exhibits set to take centre stage at the V&A Museum of Childhood after its £13 million refurbishment.

Artist's impression of the new Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOCArtist's impression of the new Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOC

The Bethnal Green venue is set to close for two years from May, and when it reopens in 2022 will feature three new galleries, entitled Play, Imagine and Design.

The new-look museum will be shaped around the way children aged 14 and under explore and learn, with objects displayed at a toddler's height and dressing-up boxes placed next to fashion items.

Hollywood props and costumes such as the original Superman suit and Mary Poppins' magical umbrella are set to be included, as well as Beatrix Potter's illustrations from the world of Peter Rabbit and the life-size puppet of Joey the horse from the West End production of War Horse.

V&A director Tristram Hunt said: "We want to empower children to realise that every act of creativity is wondrous, whether it's self-expression through their clothes, building a world on Minecraft, or launching a school climate strike.

Artist's impression of the central area of the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOCArtist's impression of the central area of the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOC

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"By bringing together the V&A's world-class collections with immersive displays anchored in children's every-day lives, we will offer an outstanding day out for families, for free.

"Beloved by the local community, but in need of modernisation, this ambitious transformation will enable the V&A Museum of Childhood to unlock its huge potential to nurture the potential of future generations and become a global champion of children's creativity."

A three-day festival, Reinvent, is set to take place at the Grade II-listed Victorian building over the early May bank holiday, featuring live performances and drop-in events.

Artist's impression of the central area of the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOCArtist's impression of the central area of the Museum of Childhood. Picture: AOC

It will celebrate the Cambridge Heath Road museum's final weekend before doors close on May 11 to allow for the redevelopment.

Over the next two years, a free programme of family activities is set to take place at the Whitechapel Idea Store. There are also plans for a learning residency at two of the borough's schools.

Planning permission for the museum's refurbishment was granted by Tower Hamlets Council last year.

The design, created in partnership with nearby schools, includes a learning centre for art and design education with studios, a 'kaleidoscope' staircase in the main hall inspired by optical toys from the museum's collection, better lighting and acoustics and a new cafe.

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