TY® Toy Collection with IV drips, masks and in hospital © The Play Observatory

Young V&A launches lockdown-focussed online exhibition ahead of reopening

Image: an eight-year old's toy collection with IV drips, masks and in hospital, Submitted by Fei Victor Lim © The Play Observatory

From child-created artworks to Barbies participating in Joe Wicks’ workouts, a new online interactive uncovers children’s creativity in the face of Covid-19.

Young V&A, the rebranded V&A Museum of Childhood, has launched its first online exhibition which will explore how children’s play has been affected by lockdowns.

Launching tomorrow (23rd March), ‘Play In The Pandemic’ marks two years since ministers announced the UK would enter the first of several national lockdowns.

The online exhibition will be hosted on the website of Play Observatory, a collaborative research project in partnership with researchers IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Spatial Analysis and the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Spanning 2020 to 2022, the project, led by Professor John Potter, invited children, their families, schools, groups and organisations to submit their experiences of play during the period through an online survey led by the University of Sheffield.

A drawing submitted by Cadi, 4 years old © The Play Observatory

Working with artist Marcus Walters, online interactive designers, Juliette Coquet and Sindi Breshani from Episod Studio, Dr Valerio Signorelli and play specialists from Great Ormond Street Hospital, Young V&A’s Katy Canales has curated the interactive online experience.

Survey submissions are to be placed alongside objects from Young V&A’s collection and a series of activities from how to make your own origami house to creating dens and window boxes for people to get involved.

The exhibition itself takes the form of an unfolding origami house – inspired by children’s activities, the playful design reflects how our homes were the settings for many pandemic experiences.

The exhibition is organised into four themes: Constructing, Imagining, Exploring and Innovating, with each theme exploring three different modes of children’s play.

Katy Canales, Online Exhibition Producer, Young V&A, said: “By collaborating with families and working alongside researchers at UCL and University of Sheffield, this project has caught a unique moment in children’s lives, providing insights into the pandemic for generations to come.”

Construction has begun on the £13m transformation of the Grade II listed Young V&A site, which is set to open to visitors in 2023.