THE FIRST IN-DEPTH STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF WOODEN
PLAYTHINGS IN SWEDEN FROM THE SEVENTEENTH TO THE
REMARKABLE DOLL HO– USES, PUZZLES AND GAMES, PULL TOYS, TRAINS, PLANES, AUTOMOBILES, AND MORE TO BE DISPLAYED
Although Germany, Japan, and the United States have historically produced and exported the largest numbers of toys worldwide, Sweden has a long and enduring tradition of designing and making wooden toys—from the simplest handmade plaything to more sophisticated forms. This exhibition not only reviews the production of Sweden’s toy industries but also explores the practice of handicraft (slöjd), the educational value of wooden playthings, and the vision of childhood that Swedish reformers have promoted worldwide.
Swedish Wooden Toys is curated by Susan Weber, Bard Graduate Center founder and director, and Amy F. Ogata, professor of art history at the University of Southern California and former professor at Bard Graduate Center.
The book accompanying the exhibition, edited by the curators, has been published by Bard Graduate Center in collaboration with Yale University Press. Swedish Wooden Toys is a superbly illustrated volume examining over 200 years of toys, from historic dollhouses to the latest designs for children. Featuring rattles, rocking horses, dollhouses, and building blocks to skis, sleds, and tabletop games with intricate moving parts, it also addresses images of Swedish childhood, the role of the beloved red Dala horse in the creation of national identity, the vibrant tradition of educational toys, and the challenges. Swedish Wooden Toys was designed by Barbara Glauber, founder and principle of the design studio, Heavy Meta. It received a first place Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators.
Swedish Wooden Toys has been generously supported by Proventus AB and Gregory Soros with additional funding from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Sweden in New York and The American-Scandinavian Foundation.