Amber Love 27-JULY-2012 Beginning this weekend the MUSEUM OF MODERN ART will exhibit “Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000,” a showcase of toys that are reflective of one hundred years of zeitgeist. This year, I’ve seen more consumers complain about the poor marketing of toys and cries for designers to expand gender neutral product lines in order to break the 20th century mold of girlie pink and boyish blue.

July 29-November 5, 2012 in the Tisch Gallery on the sixth floor, patrons can see a global impression of the how the world has changed through the eyes of the children and the designers that created toys. MOMA promises deep, at times emotional views of toys that were produced as the results of war, politics and harsh conditions.


“We’re showing the two-way, very dynamic relationship between new concepts of childhood and children and new ways of thinking about design process and creativity,” said Juliet Kichin, curator in MoMA’s architecture and design department.

Both children and artists share traits of openness and even disobedience, making them natural and empathetic collaborators.

Kichin said working for children “gave the avant-garde unique freedom and creativity.”

More than 500 objects from 20 countries, many from MOMA’s own collections, are included in the exhibit. Some items have never been seen before in the United States, including Scottish designer Jessie Marion King’s 1912-13 dollhouse made of painted wood and leather and her “Frog Prince” nursery panel. ~Reuters

The displays will stage everything you can imagine related to being a child and how items are designed for form and functionality.

“MoMA’s ambitious survey of 20th century design for children is the first large-scale overview of the modernist preoccupation with children and childhood as a paradigm for progressive design thinking. The exhibition will bring together areas underrepresented in design history and often considered separately, including school architecture, clothing, playgrounds, toys and games, children’s hospitals and safety equipment, nurseries, furniture, and books.

In 1900, Swedish design reformer and social theorist Ellen Key’s book Century of the Child presaged the 20th century as a period of intensified focus and progressive thinking regarding the rights, development, and well-being of children as interests of utmost importance to all society. Taking inspiration from Key—and looking back through the 20th century 100 years after her forecast—this exhibition will examine individual and collective visions for the material world of children, from utopian dreams for the “citizens of the future” to the dark realities of political conflict and exploitation. In this period children have been central to the concerns, ambitions, and activities of modern architects and designers both famous and unsung, and working specifically for children has often provided unique freedom and creativity to the avant-garde.”

MOMA offers several different lectures and gallery talks for families. They have a downloadable program of their family-friendly events including Pop-Up Play© encouraging children to design their very own play space from everyday materials and recycled objects.

Subscribe to my newsletter

Avoid those algorithms! Get news delivered to your inbox. You'll also receive a free short story when you subscribe!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.