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Published: July 23, 2013
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Architectural Toys Make a Playful Addition to House & Home

Objects from National Building Museum Collection Now on View in Anchor Exhibition

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Three toys from the National Building Museum’s Architectural Toy collection are now on display within House & Home, the Museum’s long-term exhibition that examines what it means to be at home in America. These toys, located in the “Community” gallery, illustrate the concept of community in different eras—the 1890s, 1940s, and 1960s. The toys are:

  • Pretty Village, made in the 1890s by the Mcloughlin Brothers
  • New England Village, made in the 1940s by Milton Bradley and Tru-Model Toys
  • Sky Rail Systems of Tomorrow, made in the 1960s by Kenner

The new additions broaden the exhibition experience and refer to the toys displayed in the first gallery, which emphasize the significant role of play to children’s understanding of home. House & Home’s first gallery features construction toys and dollhouses to emphasize the duality of house versus home. With churches, hotels, schools, and transit systems, the newly displayed toys expand beyond the home to reveal differing ideas about the building blocks of community.

“We’re really excited to be using objects from our own Architectural Toy Collection to tie the themes of the exhibition together,” said exhibition curator Sarah Leavitt. “Toys are a wonderful example of the ways we teach children about the ideas of house and home. They can reveal change over time in how we conceive of and imagine what a community looks like—a concept central to the mission of the National Building Museum.”

Read more about House & Home. The Home Depot Foundation is the presenting sponsor of House & Home. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.

Assembled over the past 30 years by George Wetzel, this unparalleled collection holds more than 2,300 toys dating from the 1860s to the 1990s. Highlights include building sets that trace the history of such childhood favorites as Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Tinker Toys, and LEGO® bricks; rarer and less familiar toys from around the globe; and examples featuring specific buildings or building types, such as skyscrapers and suburban homes. Acquired by the Museum in 2006, the Architectural Toy Collection is one of the largest and most sophisticated of its kind held in public trust within the United States.

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, online content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit www.nbm.org. Connect with us on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook.

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