Monday, February 10, 2014

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood

I went to the Museum of Childhood this morning, looking for cultural food for my brain.
It wasn't what I expected at all- because it was thronging with what seemed like 250 primary school children all yakking at the tops of their voices. Because the main part of it is Victorian, the reverb was incredibly efficient. Waist-level humans barged hither and thither in fluorescent jackets, their worksheets waving in the crosswinds. It was nice but noisy.
There was lots to see; I liked the old projectors and the mechanical toys, especially the beautiful French Dunce that played a mournful melody when you wound it up (apparently). What was disappointing was the information on the labels: the most ancient rocking horse in the entire world didn't seem to have its own information card, or maybe I missed it. And it was all written in children-speak. Maybe that's not surprising but it seems a bit like those people who speak to babies in baby-talk and then expect them to grow up speaking like humans.
It was an inspiring trip, waking up my imagination which has been sleeping for a while. I resisted the temptation to buy an automated tin monkey, and (slightly harder to resist) a Maurice Sendak book which was packed with his illustrations and ink and paper jokes; he used to mock the page while simultaneously making very observant illustrations of the state of childhood and babyhood.
On the way out I noticed that the entrance hall wall were lined with buggies of all shapes and sizes, neatly parked up against the walls and waiting for their contents be decanted back into them.
So that's where all the children go.

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