Launch Slideshow

century of the child: growing by design

century of the child: growing by design

  • 173.2006.1-29

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    Thomas Griesel

    Ladislav Sutnar (American, born Bohemia [now Czech Republic]. 1897–1976). Build the Town building blocks. 1940–43.

  • 80.2009.1-35

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    John Wronn

    Jonathan De Pas (Italian, 1932–1991), Donato D’Urbino (Italian, born 1935), Giorgio DeCurso (Italian, born 1927), and Paolo Lomazzi (Italian, born 1936). Chica modular children’s chairs. 1971.

  • 502.2005

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    Thomas Griesel

    Jean Prouvé (French, 1901–1984). School desk. 1946.

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    Thomas Griesel

    Froebel Gift No. 2: Sphere, Cylinder, and Cube. c. 1890.

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    Teaching materials commissioned by Maria Montessori. 1920s.

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    John Wronn

    Mariska Undi (Hungarian, 1877–1959). Design for children’s room. 1903.

  • 168.1993

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    Gerrit Rietveld (Dutch, 1888–1964). Child’s wheelbarrow. 1923.

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    Dan Dennehy

    John Rideout (American, 1898 – 1951) and Harold Van Doren (American, 1895-1957). Skippy-Racer scooter. c. 1933.

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    John Wronn

    Detail from Stahlromöbel (Tubular steel furniture), loose-leaf sales catalogue for furniture offered by the Thonet Company, showing Marcel Breuer’s B341/2 chair and B53 table. 1930-31.

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    Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891-1979). Glass desk. 1930.

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    Dan Dennehy

    Piet Zwart (Dutch, 1885 – 1977). Child’s chair designed for Wassenaar kindergarten, Netherlands. 1935.

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    EPW Studio

    Hans Brockhage (German, 1925–2009)and Erwin Andrä (German, dates unknown). Schaukelwagon (Rocking car). 1950.

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    Thomas Griesel

    Renate Müller (German, born 1945). Indoor play area. 1985.

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    Helen + Hard AS (Norwegian, established 1996). Siv Helene Stangeland (Norwegian, born 1966) and Reinhard Kropf (Austrian, born 1967). Geopark, Stavanger, Norway. 2011. Photograph by Emile Ashley. Courtesy of the Architects.

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    Ford convertible toy car with original box. c. 1956.

Is it a child’s creation of stacked wooden blocks or a model of a mid-century modern house? Curators from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) examine why they resemble each other with a new exhibition opening July 29. Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 demonstrates the fixation that modernist designers have with childhood objects and how that connection shaped design over the past 100 years.

A century’s worth of toys, furniture, games, books, urban plans, drawings, school designs, and more than 500 other items gathered from around the globe are on display through Nov. 5. The exhibit establishes how a toy became an art object or how a kid’s book inspired an iconic piece of architecture. Galleries will be arranged into seven chronological sections. Each period highlights important figures from that time and illustrates how corresponding events and changing public attitudes toward children influenced design. The museum has organized several programs to go with Century of the Child, including a film series, an interactive play-based exhibition, a dedicated website, and a symposium on Oct. 19 for architects and developmental psychologists to discuss playful city design.