Classics at Play

An exhibit of architectural toys from Avery’s collections
Curated by: Teresa Harris
November 16, 2015-January 29, 2016
Avery Classics reading room

Image from instructional booklet accompanying Richter’s Anchor-Building-Bricks: real stone in three colours. (New York, 1887). Avery Classics AA200 D78

Frank Lloyd Wright credited Froebel blocks with teaching him the geometry of architecture. While not every child who played with Froebel’s toys grew into a world-renowned architect, the blocks represent the most celebrated example of the nineteenth-century trend to transform play into an active educational experience. That trend continues to the present day, and many of the toys on display in Avery Classics attempt to teach spatial awareness, often by allowing the user to build a structure for him or herself. The toys range from puzzles and 19th century peepshows commemorating significant architectural exhibitions to pop-up books to Lego models of masterworks by Wright. Other items on display, like the playing cards featuring monuments of the modern movement along with caricatures of renowned architects, are oriented towards a more sophisticated audience and assume a substantial knowledge of twentieth century architecture. Take a break this holiday season and come play with us!

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