Ok, the positives: easy to get to, it's seconds away from Bethnal Green tube station. It's free to get in. The building is great, a good mix of modern convenience and Victorian atmosphere. The actual items on display are lovely and interesting.
The negatives: the cafe is incredibly ponsy, expensive and limited. We arrived, starving at 3 and found that no hot food was served after 2. The pick and mix children section was reasonable at £4.25 but very limited. Cheese or ham sandwich, apple or orange juice, etc some sections nearly sold out. Choice of two adults sandwiches, each £6.25. Salads of the bulgar wheat with olives variety. Not impressed at all.
Onto the exhibits: the lighting was extremely low which of course preserves the colours and fabrics but made reading the descriptions difficult. The descriptions were very brief and tended to end with a boring slightly twee question aimed at children- "what is your Teddy called?" type of thing. My children completely ignored this.
The items, again perhaps aimed at very short children, were often on display within the cases, only centimeters from the ground. The museum was therefore filled with the loud cracking of joints as the less lithe, more interested, adults crouched peering into the gloom trying to find out more about the Jumeau bebe doll or the Holly Hobby baking set.
Many cases had an apparent jumble of mixed items. I would have preferred for say, all the toy prams to be displayed together, all the baby equipment from different eras, etc.
The interactive children's activities were a bit pathetic. Two rocking horses, a sandpit with about a centimetre of sand, a couple of dressing up outfits, a very small sensory area. The making craft activity had finished by the time we got to that area.
The shop did not feature many of the actual exhibits on anything. Just the usual cheap generic tat available anywhere. I went specifically to see Florence Upton's Dutch dolls and original Golliwog which were lovely but had hardly any information and did not feature on a postcard, wrapping paper, toy, book or anything despite the museum guide (£9.99) calling them a very important item to the collection.
In all I think this museum needs to up it's game considerably. It could be wonderful but it's stuck between a twee, half hearted 'child centered' approach and a slightly dusty, boring version of Victorian glass cased gloom.