days out Local Review London parenting

Rachel Whiteread Place (Village) at the Museum of Childhood

Rachel Whiteread Place (Village) at the Museum of Childhood

I have this thing with houses. I’m not sure what it is but I just love little houses. So when I heard about an installation by the artist Rachel Whiteread consisting of lots of dolls’ houses, I knew I had to visit. The installation was at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.¬†Fortunately I had booked myself on a workshop at Tatty Devine in Brick Lane so was able to go a little early to visit it.

I adore the Museum of Childhood. It is one of my favourite museums, mainly due to its collection of dolls’ houses. They used to be displayed in huge glass cases but sadly it was all re-designed a few years ago and it’s not quite so quirky any more.

Rachel Whiteread Place (Village) at the Museum of Childhood

Rachel Whiteread lived and worked in East London for a long time. She was inspired by the dolls’ houses in the Museum’s collection both when she visited as a child and later when she was an artist. Rachel spent over 20 years collecting ¬†her mass of dolls’ houses – ranging in architectural styles from Tudor cottages to Georgian mansions to modernist homes. She created Place (Village) from her amazing collection of hand made and manufactured dolls’ houses.

Rachel Whiteread Place (Village) at the Museum of Childhood

All the lights are on in this deserted, ghostly, town (village). The emptiness of these miniature homes evokes forgotten memories and echoes of past inhabitants. This densely displayed community of 150 mismatched dolls’ houses has an absence of people and worldly things, suggesting a powerful sense of isolation. It is always night-time in the village.

It is a strange installation but pretty breath-taking when you are in front of it. It’s placed on the ground floor, in the far left-hand corner of the museum. It’s very dark but I think that makes you look closer – for people, things, cars. It really is just the dolls’ houses and I couldn’t help but think how different it would be if my daughter had helped arrange them all! We have a Barbie house, a dolls house and lots of Sylvanian Families houses so it was really interesting to see the houses as art and not play things.

It reminded me of pretty little coastal villages built into cliffs and it’s definitely somewhere I would visit, if it was real. You can visit the installation too, as it’s been added to the permanent display at the museum.


  • Reply
    Nayna Kanabar
    August 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    This museum looks so interesting ,I would definitely enjoy a trip there. The houses are so beautifully constructed.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    How beautiful that looks. I’ve never been to the Museum of Childhood. It sounds like a very interesting place.

  • Leave a Reply