I remember the first time I saw a Curious George cartoon as an adult and had a sudden flood of memories from my early childhood in Nigeria.
Curious George was my first teddy and I had no idea he was a character known to other kids around the world. He was just my monkey and I carried him everywhere.
I had the same rush of nostalgia when we visited the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, E2 the other day. This small but perfectly formed museum is aimed at the kid in all of us, with toys and games dating back centuries.
Practically every style of dolls house, train set, action figure or game board that you ever owned or longed for is encased in a glass cabinet for you to press your nose against and reminisce.
While Ezra whirled from exhibit to exhibit, longing to ride the vintage toy cars or play with different versions of Batman, I spotted misty-eyed dads gazing at first edition Star Wars models and Scalextric sets.
Although most of the museum’s treasures are in the look but don’t touch category, there’s plenty of hands-on fun too. On the ground level, kids can ride the rocking horse, bring a robot to life or rummage through a dressing up box for imaginative play.
The museum has a cafe selling over-priced, canteen fare but there’s a picnicking area inside where you can bring a packed lunch. Afterwards, we browsed the shop and picked up a butterfly wing vest that Ezra floated around in for the rest of the day.
As the bell rang to kick us out, we just managed to check out the toilets which are spacious with loads of cubicles, sinks and hand-dryers at child height and a baby-changing station.
In the last of the day’s rays, Butterfly Boy (in shades, biker jacket and bright wings flapping), little bro and mama enjoyed some last minute play in the lovely Museum Gardens before heading home.
On the Spot
Jenny, mum to Ryan (in sandpit), 15 months
‘I also have a 3-year-old and I’ve been coming to the museum since she was 6 months old. We’re here about three times a week, especially when the weather’s not that nice out. It’s a great place to come with other friends who have kids. You can join in a free workshop and bring a picnic for lunch. We’re very lucky to have this on our doorstep.’
Check the web site for details of exhibits, activities and workshops.