Caruso St John Architects

2002–2007
Location: London, UK
Client: Victoria & Albert Museum
Project Status: Built

The Museum of Childhood, part of the V&A's family of museums, is well known for the quality of its collections and for its educational activities within the East End of London. Caruso St John worked on a phased plan to improve the facilities of the building and to refresh the display of its collections. The original listed building has an extraordinary history, its iron structure was first built in west London, on the site of what is now the main V&A building, to house displays from the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was later dismantled and rebuilt with new facades in east London. A lack of funds at the time meant that the architect's full plans for the front of the museum were never carried out, leaving the building without the proper entrance and front-of-house facilities that a modern museum requires.

The first phase of improvements in 2003 concentrated on renovating the roof and ceiling, on opening up the main hall and entrance sequence, and a new exhibition display on the first floor. The second phase in 2006 completed the new collection displays, provided a new learning centre on the lower ground floor and constructed a new entrance building across the front facade of the grade II listed Victorian building. The new entrance pavilion, with its patterned elevations of red quartzite and brown porphyries, gives the Museum the formal front and outward aspect that it previously lacked.