Saturday, January 21, 2012

Toys from the Attic

Where: National Museum of American History

When: through February 2, 2012

Beginning in the early 19th century, middle class children no longer needed to work to help support their families, allowing them time for school and play.  There grew a large market for toys, which mimicked adult work: house cleaning implements, dolls and tools.  One of the toys on display is the "Little Embroiderer" which reminded me of the many beading kits I've seen in children's toy catalogs today.

The 19th century also marked the time when Christmas became a time for gift-giving, so if you're upset with the crass commercialization of the holiday, be aware this is not a recent phenomenon.  On display was a photo of a boy with a (toy?) rifle, which of course brought to mind "A Christmas Story."  I very much enjoyed seeing the game "Trusts & Busts or Frenzied Finance" - there's a game that could make a comeback!

The exhibit is in one of display cases by the Constitution Avenue entrance, what the museum calls its "Artifact Walls."  It's quite small and is not only easily seen in a lunch hour, you can see something else in addition.

Verdict: Worth seeing if you're on your way to the museum for something else and have a few extra minutes - not stunning enough to merit a trip on its own.

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