Ornament And Education

Ornament And Education
Ornament And Education

Video: Ornament And Education

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The museum building dates back to the mid-19th century: its metal structures once belonged to a glass building in South Kensington, where some of the exhibits from the 1851 World's Fair were kept. This museum, built in 1856, became the basis for the future Victoria and Albert Museum, and by 1872 its leadership was looking for a more solid location. And the existing building was proposed to be divided between different districts of London, so that small municipal museums would appear there. Only the authorities of Bethnal Green, at that time a slum district, responded to this proposal. They got the entire three-nave structure of metal trusses, the side openings of which were filled with bricks instead of glass: the design of the new walls belonged to James Wilde. On his initiative, they were decorated with mosaic allegorical images, and the floor was laid with marble.

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Over the next hundred years, a variety of things were exhibited there: from French painting of the 18th century to Art Nouveau furniture. Finally, in 1974, the museum was declared an affiliate of the Victoria and Albert Museum and became the Museum of Childhood. Its popularity among Londoners and tourists grew every year, but the need for reconstruction became all the more obvious: in 1872 Wilde did not have enough funds to build the lobby. And only now, after the reconstruction of Caruso St John, the museum building has acquired greater clarity and meaning.

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This is the first public workshop building in London, and it is distinguished by great tact. The work of Adam Caruso and Peter St. John can easily be attributed to neo-modernism, but in the case of the Museum of Childhood, they managed to imbue the spirit of Victorian architecture.

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The annex hiding the vestibule is lined on the outside with slabs of porphyry, quartzite and limestone, which form a stone mosaic, the ornamental motif of which resembles a three-dimensional chessboard. The name of the museum is laid out in the same place - already with a real mosaic made of smalt. The architects compare this addition to the main volume of the building with the marble facades of the Florentine basilicas, the rest of the walls of which - as in the case of the Museum of Childhood - remain brick.

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At the same time, the beginning of the XXI century is felt in the laconic forms of this "entrance group", in the careful use of color and material. Inside, the visitor enters the bright lobby, and from there - into the new exhibition gallery, built into the museum space. Otherwise, the interior of the Victorian building was restored by the architects Caruso St John rather than remodeled. Where the marble slabs of the Wilde floor have not survived, the floor is paved with planks, as it was in the early period of the building's existence - then still glass. The colors used in the design are either popular or familiar to the 19th century. And the permanent exhibition itself did not become interactive, as is customary in many modern museums. All toys and other items of children's everyday life are neatly arranged in showcases: after all, they come to admire, for the most part, adults who are able to appreciate the museum's recreation of the past, whether it is about everyday life or about architecture.

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