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The Museum of Childhood

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published January 20th 2010
When you were a kid the contents of your toy box was probably one of the world's most valuable collections as far as you were concerned; and if you were to add to that the toys belonging to your best mate, then you're looking at a some of the world's most precious objet d'art! This museum acknowledges that sentiment, putting those same toys behind glass to be properly admired.

The Museum of Childhood is the place to remember the great toys of the past, starting with your own favourites and working backwards and forwards to the toys your parents, grandparents and kids talk of so mysteriously. Because when you think about it, we probably all learned a lot from our toys, and here you're going to learn even more from them.

Some of the earliest toys on display are the dolls houses – walking past them is a walk down memory lane, from the 17th Century Nuremberg House through the Victorians to the kind of things you or your sister would have dreamed of. The miniature features reflect the larger houses of the child owners, from chamber pots to cooking ranges to some forward thinking futuristic architecture from the 70s.

As well as mini houses the museum has a collection of the kind of toys useful in games of 'Grown Ups', mini mowers, mini sewing machines, baby dolls and prams and a mini hop pickers cart? There's even a child sized Rolls Royce for Richie Rich.

There's also a collection of kid's clothes from the past 300 years from an elaborate brocade coat with two pieces of fabric running down the back so your parents could keep a hold of you (1680) to Pokémon trainers (1998). It must have been a feat of childish imagination working out how to play in a crinoline and stays! And a collection of toys from other countries and cultures.

The favourite gallery has to be the one with all the great toys from your own childhood – G.I.Joe, a Harry Potter broomstick, Robbie the Robot, the Weebles, Strawberry Shortcake, Lego! Though they have less Barbies than in my own collection.

If you're still a child then there's plenty here to inspire you, the point being that you compare your own life to the life of olden day children. If you're not interested in being inspired there's a lot to play with as well. The dress ups are highly recommended.

If your favourite toy is missing take comfort that only a VERY small part of the museum's collection can fit in the display cases - your favourite toy is probably off in some great toy box secretly playing with all the other toys while no one's watching.
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Why? Because seeing all your old toys in a museum is very comforting - they're just as valuable as you thought they were!
When: Open 10:00 until 17:45 every day
Where: Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9PA, nearest tube Bethnal Green
Cost: Free entry, even for exhibitions
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