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From peg dolls to spacemen: Toys through Time

Chloe Wolifson

Step through the toyshop doors and enter a world of whimsy, nostalgia and fun with Toys through Time at the Museum of Sydney.
From peg dolls to spacemen: Toys through Time

Ferris, c1947-1958, made in Sydney. Private collection. Photo © Jamie North for Sydney Living Museums.

The Museum of Sydney will soon transform into a wondrous toy chest for the exhibition Toys through Time.  Visitors will encounter historical curios and experience nostalgic flashbacks as they discover over 200 original toys dating from the early 1800s through to the 1970s. Exhibition project manager Bob Whight revealed some highlights of the exhibition, which is drawn from a range of local collections, including those of Sydney Living Museums’ Rouse Hill House & Farm, Meroogal in Nowra, Susannah Place Museum in the Rocks, the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, and other institutions and private collections.

Toys through Time will feature archaeological finds from convict-era Sydney, where imported toys were being advertised for sale as early as 1805. By the 1850s, an incredible 50 percent of the city’s population was under the age of 12. 'Imagine the streets busy with children playing, and in homes you would have been tripping over toys,' said Whight. 'I think there’s a very different way that we play now, and a different attitude to toys.' The toys have stories as unique and personal as their provenance. 'Not everything’s in mint condition, it’s showing its age and that people have loved it and taken the toy on a journey through life.'