For hundreds of years puppets have been used to act out stories by adults and children across many different cultures. Similarly, printed toy theatres have enabled children to act out popular plays of the time or even make up their own stories and scenery.

The Museum’s puppet collection includes beautiful examples from around the world including Javanese shadow puppets, Italian marionettes, an original Punch and Judy booth and Japanese Bunraku figures. Other examples include toy versions of popular television characters such as Muffin the Mule, Kermit the Frog and an Archie Andrews ventriloquist doll.

String puppets

String puppets

String puppets or marionettes have complete bodies and jointed limbs, with carved or moulded heads.

Read more
Hand puppets

Hand puppets

The most well-known hand puppet characters in Britain are Punch and Judy.

Read more

Shadow puppets

Shadow puppets

Shadow puppets are jointed figures operated from below using rods made from wire or wood.

Read more
Bunraku

Bunraku

Bunraku performances are designed for a highly sophisticated, adult audience.

Read more

Toy theatres

Toy theatres

The toy theatre pictured is known as the Trentsensky Theatre because some of the scenes used were made by this famous company.

Read more
Muffin the Mule

Muffin the Mule

Muffin the Mule was the first great star of children's television in Britain, and made his television debut as a puppet in 1946 with Annette Mills.

Read more

Shop online...

Patrick Rylands Cool Cat

The V&A online shop stocks a distinctive and refreshingly different range for children, big and little, then and now, including toys, games, books and accessories.

Buy

Tel: +44 (0)20 8983 5200 | V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA