Museum of the Month is a brand new series in which I share my experiences of visiting unique and often strange museums from around the world. My aim is to rebuff the notion that museums are boring!
One of the things I find myself despairing over in today’s world is how reliant we have become on modern technology as a form of entertainment. I look at kids in their prams playing on iPads bigger than their bodies and wonder what has happened to the concept of childhood. As an adult I long for the halcyon days where I played out with the other kids on my street re-enacting scenes from a Walt Disney or (in my case) Bruce Lee films. The memory of being outdoors and making new friends is perhaps the starting point to why I like travelling so much now; it reminds me of the early years of my life when I was constantly learning and experiencing new things without having to worry about the responsibilities of adulthood.
When I hear about children being addicted to the TV or choosing to stay inside so they can swipe their fingers over their iPads I can’t help feeling we are on the brink of destroying the essence of childhood. It’s not that iPads are directly bad for children but they have indirect consequences – time spent on tablets is even less time enjoying nature or playing with friends or talking as a family. Since when did giving a child a teddy bear or a pop-up book become a social faux pas? Because it certainly feels that way by the amount of times I see children sitting with an iPad or mobile phone.
All these concerns about the relationship between children and technology were recently heightened by a visit to Pollock’s Toy Museum in London. Visiting was like walking back in time to how things used to be before we became so obsessed with Play Stations and having the latest gadgets (I don’t know what the latest gadgets are so excuse my non-specific references).
One of my oldest friends, Verity, came to visit me in London and I wanted to take her somewhere a little different so I thought this place was a fun idea. The outside of the museum is colourfully painted and looks more like a sweet shop partially because it’s questionably small, especially for the £6 entrance fee. However, the museum spans across two buildings and it’s filled to the brim with famous puppets like Punch and Judy, and Snooty and Sweep, then there are less well known curiosities like creepy wax dolls which appear to stare at you from across the room like a broken faced Mona Lisa.
Although the museum initially appears small you soon discover it’s full of winding, creaky stairs and just when you think you have seen everything, you find another door to push open or another set of stairs to swing down and suddenly the museum appears a whole lot bigger. If there had been a mirror, I would have tried to climb through it – that’s how this museum makes you feel!
I wouldn’t even recommend this museum for children; instead it’s best for adults who want a wistful trip down memory lane. All the toys and dolls are placed behind glass and some of them look like they haven’t had the dust blown off them for a while, this adds to the museum’s charm because it kind of feels like it has been forgotten about. That’s why people should visit, by doing so you’re paying homage to all the fabulous games and toys we had for centuries. These toys are a part of our history and importantly, they are a part of our childhood – if we’re not careful these toys will perish in a world that’s virtualising at a scary speed. Viva Pollock’s Toy Museum!
How to get there: Go to Goodge Street Station and it’s a close walk to 1 Scala Street.
Admission Fee: Adult £6, concession £5, children £3
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm