Current Exhibit

Timeless Toys: Favorites from the Permanent Collection

Archeologists have found prehistoric children’s toys made of clay, wood, and metal. Playing with toys helps to socialize children teaching them about their world and the roles they will eventually play as adults. Through this process, children can develop social and physical skills, mental agility, and strong bodies.

The concept and the time frame of childhood has altered over the centuries. Throughout most of history, except for the elite, children as young as four or five years were expected to work. The idea of adolescence developed in the late nineteenth century and was associated with the growing European and American urban middle classes. The rural and urban poor—the overwhelming majority of the population—did not have the luxury to play with toys once they were old enough to work.

The turn of the 20th century was the golden age of toy development. Working-class families were able to afford toys for their children, and mass production provided the supply to meet this rising demand. Visionaries in toy design were responsible for the invention and production of popular lines of toys based on engineering principles with moving parts.

During World War II, new types of toys were created through accidental innovations including the development of synthetic materials. After the war, as society became more affluent and this new technology and materials (plastics) became readily obtainable, toys became less expensive and more available to households across the Western World.

The materials that toys are made from have changed, what toys can do has changed, but the fact that children still play with toys has not!

Timeless Toys: Favorites from the Permanent Collection
Available for viewing through January 12th
Monday - Saturday, 9 am - 4 pm
Loeb Reception Center, 301 Columbus St.
Free to the public