"Many of the games and toys are timeless and I can remember them from my childhood."

Phoebe at the Museum of Childhood
Phoebe at the Museum of Childhood

I interviewed Ieuan Hopkins (Archivist-British Toy Making Project), Catherine Howell (Collections Manager) and Robert Moye (Deputy Director) about the changing objectives of museums and specifically the museum of childhood, along with changing attitudes towards history.

Ieuan discussed the difference between archiving and how objective you have to be as you don’t know for what purpose the material will be used for so you can not do an intense amount of analysis on it, where as in curating (curating another word for choice) depends on what you chose to represent.

The museum caters for children, for example the labels are at reading height for children and also written in a manner that is understandable for 8 year olds but one of the main objectives at the museum is to increase the educative and academic side with greater accessibility to archive material and by working towards creating a more integrated unit made up of the library, the archives and the objects and this is where I come in. They appreciate the importance of collectors’ interest but want to encourage the use of toys as a source for the study of social history.

So many objects and not enough room to keep them. The decision of what stays and what goes is not in the hands of the Museum of Childhood, but the bigger organisation they are affiliated to, the Victoria and Albert museum. The establishment of the Museum of Childhood in 1974 is an example of the huge growth in museums and the representation of groups of people or aspects of history that had previously been ignored.

I find the museum so attractive as a place to work and study, having just finished a year of studying British history through cinema and also London’s history through literature and now going on to do Society Family and Culture in Britain 1832-1918 I can now use the objects and archives to accompany this past and future study.