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.