Young V&A: ‘World’s most joyful museum’ wins Museum of the Year award

The Young V&A, which describes itself as the most joyful museum in the world, has won the 2024 Museum of the Year award.

The east London venue, which is aimed at children and young people, will receive a £120,000 prize.

It was named the winner by the Art Fund charity at a ceremony in the capital on Tuesday.

The Young V&A, a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum, reopened in July 2023 after being closed for a three-year £13m redevelopment. It was formerly called the V&A Museum of Childhood.

Culture Secretary Lisa Nandy said the Young V&A had created “a unique space dedicated to young people”.

Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund and chair of the judges, agreed and called the museum “truly inspirational”.

“It has radically reimagined the museum with and for young people, creating a museum experience that’s active, empowering and dynamic, centred on learning through play,” she said.

“You truly are the world’s most joyful museum and will inspire young people now and for generations to come.”

The museum, located in Bethnal Green, features more than 2,000 objects dating from 2300BC to the present day across three new galleries titled Play, Imagine and Design.

The zones include an open design studio, a games design space for teenagers and an interactive Minecraft installation.

There is also a space for temporary exhibitions. The first, Japan: Myths to Manga, has been running since October and takes viewers on a journey through Japanese history to explore how landscape and folklore have influenced popular culture, technology and design.

It was recently visited by the Emperor of Japan.

In the first nine months after it reopened, the museum has welcomed more than 590,000 visitors.

The Young V&A was one of five finalists for the Museum of the Year award. The others were:

  • Craven Museum in Skipton, North Yorkshire
  • Dundee Contemporary Arts
  • Manchester Museum
  • The National Portrait Gallery in London

Each finalist will receive £15,000.

Organisers say the prize particularly focuses on community engagement, sustainable ways of working and reinvention.

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