Design for children is focus of new MoMA exhibit

Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:57pm EDT
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With toys, games, small furniture, books and play areas, a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art casts a sharp focus on 20th century design for children.

"Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000," which opens on July 29 and runs through November 5, looks at the symbiotic relationship between children and the artists who designed for them.

"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.


The exhibit's first point of reference is Ellen Key's 1900 book "Century of the Child." The Swedish design reformer and social theorist looked at the 20th century as a period of intensified focus and progressive thinking about the crucial importance of the rights, development, and well-being of children.   Continued...

An undated handout file photo shows a Ford convertible toy car (L) and a Subaru 360 toy car that will be displayed at the "Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000" exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. REUTERS/Copyright 2011 The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York/EPW Studio/Handout