Small Talk / Exhibits

Viva Video Games!

video games

Did you know the first video game was invented by a physicist in 1958? That practically seems like the dark ages compared to all of the video games we’ve come to know and love in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond! Now that technology is moving at a more rapid pace than ever, what happens to all of the outmoded video game systems, not to mention the games themselves?

Fear not: Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Q*bert and others live on! The Strong National Museum of Play’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games contains every major video game platform manufactured in the U.S. since 1972, more than 20,000 video games for consoles, and more than 7,000 for personal computers. Think of how much allowance that adds up to! Focusing only on console systems, The National Videogame Museum announced its permanent home in Frisco, Texas last year. The museum’s goal is to build an all-inclusive, interactive museum for every game system ever. And before you start gathering your quarters, check out the Internet Arcade, home to some of the best (and super nostalgic) arcade games from the 1970s-’90s.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

kite exhibition

For centuries, kites have remained one of the most universal outdoor toys. A symbol of childhood and freedom, the playthings can be found everywhere from suburban America to Brazilian favelas to the villages of Japan. A new exhibit at the V&A Museum of Childhood prominently displays a colorful kaleidoscope of kites from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Kites from Kabul is a partnership between the museum and British charity Turquoise Mountain. Established in 2006, Turquoise Mountain’s Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture teaches young Afghans traditional arts and crafts like calligraphy, ceramics, and jewelry-making. Videos and photographs of the children who made the kites accompany the installation. A product of the intersection of art and play, the kite exhibition aims to foster greater understanding of Afghan culture.
Photo: Andrew Quilty/Oculi, V&A Museum of Childhood.

 

The Wonderful World of Walter Wick

Walter Wick exhibit

Anyone who has been to a Scholastic Book Fair in the last 20 years knows the joys of the I Spy and Can You See What I See? books. Think of the hours spent combing the pages for each meticulously placed object! The photographer behind the juvenile book series, Walter Wick, is featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Shelburne Museum this summer.

Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic is a feast for the eyes comprised of Wick’s large-scale photographs and whimsical dioramas. Visitors of all ages are invited to search the visual puzzles for optical illusions and ever-elusive toys. Wick explained that the exhibit’s title “not only describes the contents of the show, but the contents of my head.” We hope he has no plans to declutter anytime soon!
Photo: Walter Wick, Mirror Maze from I Spy Fun House, 1993. Pigmented Inkjet Photograph, 50 x 36 in. Copyright Wick Studio. Organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art.

At Home With the Museum of Miniature Houses

museum of miniature houses

The Museum of Miniature Houses & Other Collections located in Carmel, Indiana (it’s pronounced CAR-mel, unlike the town in California) is home to a large assortment of all things small. Despite the museum’s name, you won’t find any of the trendy garden shed-sized “tiny homes,” but you will find a wide variety of small structures including fine-scale miniatures and antique dollhouses.

Founded in 1993, the museum’s collection is as varied as it is wondrous. Seasonal rotating exhibits display everything from model Ford Mustangs to whimsical winter wonderlands. The Museum of Miniature Houses is located in the same town as the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME), a non-profit organization that promotes the hobby of miniature making and collecting. You might say the town of Carmel is the place to be for all things small (maybe there’s something in the water!).
Photo: Courtesy of The Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections.

The World Made Small

Colonial Williamsburg Dollhouse

Generations of visitors to Colonial Williamsburg have witnessed history come alive before their eyes. Historical reenactors interpret everyday life in the revolutionary city, from famous patriots to tradespeople and shopkeepers. One of the best ways (and of course our favorite) to see how children lived in America’s earliest years is through the toys they played with.

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg has stepped out several of their dollhouses for an exhibit called The World Made Small. More than just playthings, dollhouses provided a way for girls to learn the importance of keeping house. Among the dollhouses on display is an 1820 cabinet-style house filled with over a century’s worth of family heirlooms, including a tiny chest-on-chest made from a cigar box. A massive fifteen-foot-long dollhouse from 1900 steals the show with Victorian furnishings that emulate full-scale homes of the time. Colonial Williamsburg staff and volunteers actually re-created several paintings from the permanent collection on a small scale to adorn the walls! Not to be outdone by the “girlish” dollhouses, the exhibit also features toy structures for boys including a fort, soldier’s campsite, and a farm.
Photo: Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg.

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