Monday, August 20, 2012

At the MoMA - Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000

My kids have certainly put a crimp in my museum-going aways, and this irony was not lost on me when I made my way to a rare museum visit to see the MoMA exhibit Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000, on display until November 5, 2012.

I'm so glad I found the time to see this fascinating exhibit - and equally glad that I experienced it without my offspring. While the exhibit focuses on the furniture, toys, books and other miscellanea of childhood, it is an exhibit geared towards adults.

When I was at the exhibit I saw many a parent pushing a child riding in a paradigm of modern design, who despite their clearly progressive leanings could not get the kid to care at all about what they were being told to show an interest in by their doting parents.

In addition to displaying stunning objects of design like Art Nouveau playrooms and pull-toys inspired by Keith Haring, the exhibit did a wonderful job explaining why these things took the forms they did, and the many forces at work that resulted in children being treated one way, or another, during the hundred-year span covered by the exhibit.

One of the most interesting shifts was in the 1960s, the first time that kids were viewed as a major economic force in their own right, and marketers began truly in earnest to create products to be purchased by, or for, this demographic. Children's lives, and their position in society, has never really been the same since this shift in outlook occurred.

A few other gems of the exhibit including a video clip of Geometry of Circles which aired in a 1979 episode of Sesame Street, and features an original work by Philip Glass.

And I loved seeing the original set from the Pee-Wee Herman Show, a perfect end to this amazing exhibit.

And last, I would like to note that my children are lucky enough to own - and be allowed to play with on a daily basis - a fair number of the very items on display in this exhibit. And a certain husband (not mentioning any names) should be overjoyed and grateful that his wife scours the Internet for these museum worthy design examples instead of wincing every time a mangled box filled with "used" toys arrives in the mail. Overjoyed, I tell you. Overjoyed and grateful.

You can read my full review of the exhibit at, as well as find all exhibit particulars at

I was not compensated for this post.

1 comment:

mannahattamamma said...

I wanted to see this exhibit because you said it was so interesting...I walked into the museum, looked at the crowds, and...went for a walk in the park. Which was also nice, but not the same. Sounds like a fascinating exhibit - and all the better for being seen at your own pace, in your own time.

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