V&A Museum of Childhood

On the second week I visited that fascinating place, full of memories of the past and images of the imaginary worlds of the childhood. A rich collection of toys, games, art and design for kids (of all ages), dolls’ houses, furniture, paintings and even clothes.

The first thing that I’ve encountered when I walked in the museum was the tribal art form from Western India and the Warli tribe. Quoting the Museum’s leaflet “Drawing on a store of tribal memory, myths and everyday life, it has evolved from restricted ritual drawings into an applied art in process of transition.”. Everything that I saw about Warli wass earthy and soothing.

(“The tales we tell: Indian Warli Painting” exhibition will be at V&A Museum of Childhood until 1 January 2017).

As I continued to explore the museum I found a series of 12 images by phtographer Sonya Hurtado that were really inspiring. Quoting the Museum’s leaflet again, : “Explores the imaginary world of childhood. A world where children encounter and must navigate complex feelings of isolation, fear and despair. Set in the context of fairy tales and children’s stories, the images are conceived almost like paintings, full of color and vibrancy”. Unfortunately the light there didn’t let me to take some photos but I’ve tried to draw something out of them combining it with my own ideas.


skmbt_c55216102213240_0002(“Tales” by Hackney-based photographer Sonya Hurtado is exhibited by Museum of Childhood until 8 January 2017).

It was very weird for me to see in a museum a whole collection of “Retro” electronic/video games and console games that I was very fond of playing when I was a kid (and I still do). Sega, Atari, Amstrad…, tetris … back from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. My “old friends” in a museum, that’s peculiar and has awakened sweet memories.

“The popular early arcade game, Space Invaders, was first developed by the Japanese company Taito in 1978. It was the company’s first video game. Players have to protect the planet from relentless hordes of aliens marching down the screen, with just a single-shot moving gun and four shot-blocking bunkers as protection.” Only a part of the text.


In the last picture, besides Amstrad, it is shown an Engelbrecht Theatre, was made by Martin Engelbrecht (a printseller and engraver in Augsburgin) in 1721. He created cards for miniature theaters, which when inserted into a display box showed religious scenes and pictures of daily life in a 3D perspective view. Engelbrecht’s miniature theaters or dioramasare regarded as the earliest “paper” theaters in history.


Then it was an old Steroscope, a device for viewing a pair of separate images, as a single three-dimensional image. There was even a 3D book with a pairs of 3D glasses from 1910.


“During the 1800s many toys were invented that used moving pictures. Some had a series of still images which, when shown quickly in sequence, appeared to move. Changing or anamorphic pictures have been popular since about 1600. When you see something that does not make sense, it can take a different viewpoint to solve the visual trick.”

With the above point of view in mind, I’ve noticed some interesting pieces on display.

Cone Viewer, 1850

“Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable”, a quote by the psychologist Carl Jung was written on the window glass of the Museum.

Zoetrope strips, 1870-1880. There are always 13 images on the strip, in order to show the movement. Look See – Moving and changing pictures.


Phenakistoscope or Fantascope, 1850. It was the first widespread animation device that created an illusion of motion. The phenakistoscope is regarded as one of the first forms of moving media entertainment.


Zoetrope strips.

The last thing tha I found really interesting was a kind of interactive, creative game that was in the building of the Museum, with which anyone could play. You could create your own story and be a part of that story with 3 simple steps: spin, dress up and use your imagination.

Make Believe.


Bibliography: Museum Catalogue: V&A Museum of Childhood London. What’s On September – December 2016. – Illustrations by Rose Tudor Best.

Cover: Kismet Snakes and Ladder board (detail), Germany, 1895.

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