V&A museum launches new online activities to teach children about design during lockdown

The V&A museum is launching a new initiative designed to teach children about design while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme, which begins this week, will dedicate every Wednesday during lockdown to offering fun activities and challenges to children aged between seven and 11-years-old.

The first activity will focus on the world of fashion, using a number of archive pieces from the museum’s collection to inspire young people.

Some of the garments included in the online programme are an elaborate fried breakfast dress worn by Dame Edna Everage, a “bingo jacket” designed by Jim O’Connor and a rubber-corseted tutu designed by Vivienne Westwood and Andres Kronthaler, which was worn by model Lily Cole to the 2013 punk-inspired Met Gala.

The V&A hopes that the items will help to inspire and spark children’s imaginations.

“We’re saying let’s make something to wear that makes cooking or eating more fun,” said Elizabeth Galvin, head of learning and digital programmes at the V&A.

“With the bingo jacket, we’re saying let’s make something to wear that keeps you entertained. It could be trainers, a hat or something completely new … there are no wrong answers.”

Each week a new theme will be chosen, in line with the V&A’s extensive collections which showcase more than 5000 years of art and design.

Dame Edna’s Breakfast Dress, designed by Stephen Adnitt and worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage in the television programme Dame Edna’s Work Experience 1997 (V&A Museum)

The activities will be posted on Twitter, Facebook and the V&A’s blog, and the museum is encouraging people to share their own designs on social media using the hashtags #LetsMakeWednesdays and #myVAM.

“You don’t need any specialised equipment,” said Galvin. “You can use pens, paper, cardboard boxes and things from the recycling bin to solve a design problem or come up with new ideas.”

Jacket of PVC with felt appliqué of Bingo numbers, designed by Jim O’Connor for Mr Freedom, England, 1970 (V&A Museum)

As well as highlighting particular pieces, the museum will also be sharing behind-the-scenes videos and insights into the making of objects with their creators.

The themes for the next two weeks will be  “Theatre and Performance” and  “Materials”.

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