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3 Exhibits to See at The Museum of Childhood

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published December 23rd 2014
Child's Play Mimics Real Life
3 Exhibits to See at The Museum of Childhood

museum of childhood, it's my party


The Museum of Childhood explores all aspects of life as a child, including playtime, family life, and what childhood is like in different countries different eras. As well as its permanent galleries, the museum also runs several long-term exhibitions. Currently there are three to visit.

It's My Party

It's My Party
Until 4th October 2015

museum of childhood, it's my party


In the Front Room of the museum there is a long glass display cabinet all about birthday parties. It explores the different ways to celebrate; some do not like to hold parties, while others go for all out extravagance. The museum questions whether children's parties have escalated out of control. Does scale and expensive necessarily equal the 'best party'?

Children from Rushmore Primary School in Hackney and St. John's Primary School in Tower Hamlets have collaborated with artists to create 'Wilfred's Party' installation. They guest list includes lots of their favourite characters and toys, such as Pinocchio, Lola Bear, and Dismal Desmond Dog.

Hidden Identities

Hidden Identities
Until 28th June 2015

museum of childhood, hidden identities


Hidden Identities is a photography exhibit by Yvonne de Rosa, who examines the lives of children and families living in adverse conditions in Bosnia and Romania. The project was in collaboration wit Hope and Homes for Children, an international charity that works to prevent the breakdown of families.

museum of childhood, hidden identities


The photography aims to show that children can still develop individual identities despite poverty. One of the families features is the Fericis, who live on Igman Mountain, where there is no running water, electricity, or sanitation. They collect water from a well in winter, but in the summer it dries up and they have to travel to the nearest village. The parents received no education, so do not consider it a priority for their kids. When the children's progress at school began to decline, social services stepped in to help out.

The Fernezius live in a single room, once part of the Herja mine. The father can't work due to health problems, so the mother supports the family. They did not receive an education, but are proud that their children are attending kindergarten.

Small Stories: At Home in Dolls' Houses

Small Stories: At Home in Dolls' Houses
Until 6th September 2015

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


A dollhouse is a wondrous toy for a child to play with, but they have changed a lot in three hundred years. Originally dollhouses were built for wealthy adults to show off; it was not until the eighteenth century that they began to become made for children, and even then, they were so ornate, they could hardly be described as a toy. It was not until the nineteenth century when they were turned into commercial products, tailored to be more suitable for playing with.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


This large exhibition tells the story behind twelve of the museum's most treasured dollhouses, and helps show what family life was like over the course of history. From country mansions to high-rise apartments, there are lots of audio and visual interactive features for adults and children alike.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


The exhibit explains how women were once only allowed to own 'moveable property', I.E. furniture and clothes, so a dollhouse was the closest they could come to owning their own home.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


Dollhouses were often passed down the generations. One such example is the Tate Baby House (1760) that was owned by the mothers and daughters of the Tate family for a hundred and seventy years, before its final owner, Flora Tate, died without children, and it was sold to the museum.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


Sometimes old furniture was upcycled to be turned into a dollshouse, such was the case with a Chine style cabinet, and a writing desk with a dollhouse constructed on top.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


There are two sections where life-size rooms have been recreated, so you can enter the era. In one of the rooms, children can dress up in costumes provided on pegs, while in the other, you can travel back to the sixties and watch TV.

museum of childhood, small stories, at home in the dolls' house


Although I personally don't like it, one of the most intriguing dollhouses is The Kaleidoscope House, built in 2001 by Bozart Toys. It was commissioned by Laurie Simmons, who had it based on her own home, and the dolls, representations of her and her family.
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Why? Learn about different types of childhoods
When: Until 4th Oct
Phone: 020 8983 5200
Where: Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9PA
Cost: Free
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