It’s almost that time of year and, as always, toys are at the top of many Christmas lists. TOYS 2, the exhibit at Montreal’s McCord Museum from November 18 to March 11, is a delight for both the young and young-at-heart. I followed the path of tiny cat paws painted on the museum floor and they led me to this charming new show…
The exhibit not only enchants children, it brings back a sense of childhood to us all. I happened to see TOYS 2 on a day when children were visiting. There were constant squeals of delight as the tots started to search for the mouse, which is the theme of this fun exhibition: a cat looking for a mouse. Through nursery rhymes and themes, visitors are invited to join in the search.
The clues start at the entrance where there is a rather boring, grey industrial-looking wall. Suddenly four miniature doors open one at a time to reveal a cheerful hint. Entering the colorful room I started at the first scene – a diminutive battlefield. Every young boy’s dream, it is a scene packed with a squadron of tough toy soldiers. But it seems they cannot see the huge creature bellowing behind them. However, help is on the way as high above, hanging from the ceiling, colourful parachutes hover protectively.
My next stop is a huge igloo. It brought back memories of building a secret space, fortified with blankets and pillows. Indeed, using this childhood memory, the designers layered real pillows on a round frame. Inside teddy bears and dolls drift on ice floes. Next stop, the ‘dress-up’ room. Spilling out of an old suitcase were costumes, feather boas and huge butterfly wings. Kids could then admire themselves in funhouse mirrors.
The final stop is four child-sized tables and chairs, with board games from the past and present. Although many of the toys in the show are old and lovingly worn, some being made over 100 years ago, TOYS 2 is very today. Two large touch-screens give easy-to-read information.
For example, a toy elephant, made around 1900, is on four wheels so that a child could pull it. You can read facts about the pieces and toys in the exhibit, which are all borrowed from the 11,000 treasures in the museum’s collection. (TIP: On top of the weekly “Family Sundays” filled with fun and educational activities, there will be several “Crazy About Toys” workshops for kids: December 27-31, 2011 and January 2-7, 2012.)
Toys 2, November 18, 2011 to March 11, 2012
McCord Museum, 690 Sherbrooke Street West, (514) 398-7100
Photo Credit: Guy Labissonnière, McCord Museum