V&A launches festival to celebrate 150 years in Bethnal Green

An image showing how the view of the square at the Young V&A may look like

An image showing how the view of the square at the Young V&A may look like - Credit: Picture Plane/V&A

The V&A is celebrating 150 years of its Bethnal Green museum and its redevelopment into the Young V&A with the launch of a year-long festival.

The Young V&A, which was formerly the V&A Museum of Childhood, will open in summer 2023 and will be dedicated to children up to 14 years old.

The Reinvent Festival, which launched on June 24, will showcase 150 ways to be creative and it will offer a series of family friendly events, activities and pop-ups in partnership with venues across east London.

Its programme will feature a range of creative ambassadors, including children’s author Ed Vere, portrait and documentary photographer Rehan Jamil, as well as artists Albert Potrony, Emilie Queney and Zoom Rockman, Beano’s youngest ever illustrator and Private Eye cartoonist.

Speaking about the launch of the Young V&A, Catherine Ritman-Smith, head of learning and engagement, said the museum will be “historic - we haven't really found any examples quite like this”.

The transformation of the V&A Museum of Childhood into the Young V&A will convert the space into a museum for children and young people that “children can participate in and enjoy - it will really contribute meaningfully to their learning”, Catherine added.

Dr Helen Charman, director of Young V&A, said: “For 150 years, the V&A has been embedded in its local community and we can’t wait to open Young V&A in summer 2023 as a new museum that puts children and their creative futures front and centre.

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"The World Economic Forum has made an urgent call to prioritise playful learning and help equip future generations with the creative, social and emotional skills they need to thrive in today’s complex world.

"Through harnessing the potential of the V&A collection to create moments of joy, inspiration and wonder, empowering young people to unleash their own creativity, Young V&A will do just that.”

The V&A’s Bethnal Green museum, which was originally known as the East London Museum of Science and Art, was first opened in 1872 by the Prince of Wales as east London’s first ever public museum.

Early visitors included artist Vincent van Gogh and author Henry James.