Kiddie Kingdom

Victorian attitudes to children were famously forbidding. That might partly explain why London's Museum of Childhood is little heard of by most visitors to the capital. Then there's the building itself—a red-brick and iron shed, an unloved remnant of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington that in 1872 was rebuilt in Bethnal Green as a cultural outpost for the museum's overspill, particularly its collection of dolls and children's costumes.

Some of the gloom and an aura of worthiness persisted even after its rebirth as the Museum of Childhood in 1974. But a visit there became a quiet...

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