Preliminary work begins at Museum of Childhood

Freelance designer Alex Rich will present preliminary signage and graphics concepts next week to the Museum of Childhood, part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, following his appointment before Christmas.

Freelance designer Alex Rich will present preliminary signage and graphics concepts next week to the Museum of Childhood, part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, following his appointment before Christmas.

The graphic elements form part of a multi-million pound redevelopment at the museum, located in London’s Bethnal Green. Architect Caruso St John is refurbishing all interiors, including galleries and the entrance space.

Rich has held workshops with children prior to his presentation, which led to the development of several ideas. His plans for the wayfinding system involve ‘re-appropriating road signage’, he explains. As well as signage, he is ‘re-displaying’ the collections.

Graphic work may include marketing and promotional literature, but further down the line, says a museum spokeswoman. Rich was appointed after a four-way credentials pitch against unnamed rivals.

‘I wanted to get away from creating obviously child-oriented signs, to avoid being patronising. Road signs used in a different context can be very friendly and quite physical,’ he says.

The first phase of the refurbishment includes the main hall and the top floor exhibition space, and is scheduled to be completed in March. This first tranche of work is a £2.2m project.

The second phase will create a new museum entrance hall. Currently, the area is ‘cluttered’ and needs more space and better facilities, says the spokeswoman.

‘We want to make the museum more child friendly,’ she says. ‘It needs to be more open and accessible, and operate at a lower-level to appeal to children and families.’

Caruso St John is also revamping the café area, introducing ‘Wagamama-style’ benches for the final phase of its work, and is addressing the lighting of individual galleries.

Its brief includes a temporary exhibition space, which will house the museum’s main show this year, The Teddy Bear Story. Designed in-house, it opens on 29 March and runs until December.

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