Treasured collection at Museum of Childhood of things we love to keep

A exhibition of ‘treasured collections’ is planned at Bethnal Green’s Museum of Childhood which brings together objects and souvenirs kept by museums as well as private households.

Museums collect, cherish and display artefacts of cultural, historical and artistic importance.

But on a smaller scale, many people also build up personal collections, usually objects with significant meanings or memories, keepsakes that evoke or preserve something from our past.

The exhibition opening next month aims to show that what people consider valuable can be highly individual and varied, from the mundane to the precious.

“The things we keep reveal much about what we consider to be the ‘important stuff’ in life,” a museum spokesman explains. “Objects can provide a way of holding on to intangible memory.”


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The exhibition has been put together with the Kuverum Museum in Switzerland, Toynbee Hall’s luncheon club, students from Tower Hamlets College, children from Cayley and St John’s Primary schools and Hackney’s Halkevi Kurdish Turkish community centre.

It also includes a reconstruction of hundreds of things donated to the Museum of Childhood by Mary Kempson and her son Steve Dimon between 1985 and 2011.

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Steve and Mary, now seeing their things together again for the first time, have suggested that museum and domestic collections are not so different. Both bridge the need to remember the past and provide a home for the things most important to people.

The ‘Treasured Collection’ opens at the museum in Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, next month, date to be confirmed, and runs until next September.

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