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Curator's Blog: The Trouble with Toys

The old and new toys hanging out together.

16 March 2017

In the shops and houses at the Museum we have many things on display. For Jessica, our Assistant Curator, some of her favourites are the toys we have in the village. But toys don’t survive village life very well. What do we do with troublesome toys? 

Toys tell  a story. You can really delve into their history by looking at how worn they are, whether they were  handmade or bought, whether they were repaired or left broken and how long they were  kept in the family. They also instantly remind me of my childhood toys and I am sure I am not the only one! This is why it is so lovely to have examples of historic toys on display at the museum.

But the trouble with older toys is that they are made out of natural materials, like wood or fabric. Wood and fabric can get eaten by bugs, fade in the sunlight and then eventually disintegrate into nothing. To slow down the ageing process and keep the toys for as long as possible, we have to take them off display and find them a new home in our museum stores. Yet we still want our visitors to see and enjoy these gorgeous toys. Luckily, our Costume Department came to the rescue.

Our Seamstress and her volunteers created paper patterns from the original toys. They then made prototypes out of spare material in the sewing room for the curators to inspect (and cuddle!). The curators then researched what these toys would have originally been made of so that we'd be able to make the replicas as realistic as possible.

If you're wandering around the Museum. do keep your eyes peeled for these new toys popping up in our buildings in the not too distant future!

Do you have a family toy that is looking for a new home? Black Country Living Museum is always interested in collecting pre-1950 toys that were made and/or used in the Black Country so please contact us at collections@bclm.com

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