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Toys & Games

From a game of Pick-Up Sticks from circa 1900 to a 21st Century magic wand with hair of Unicorn, from pull toys, push cars and action figures to a replica Blackfoot bone toss game and a rocking horse from the 1800s… more than 130 toys and games are featured in the fall exhibit “Toys & Games – engage, entertain, educate” officially opening at the Galt Museum & Archives at 11:00 am Saturday October 1 during Museum Community Day, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

“Instead of focusing on a historical perspective on toys and games,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt. “I wanted to explore what we gain from play, how critical it is to the development of a child, and for teens and adults – we should never lose our ability to play, it gives us a break from everyday life. It helps keep our minds and bodies active.”

Play is entertaining and can be a solitary activity or social interaction. Play with toys and games stimulate imagination, creativity, exploration and curiosity. Memory, math skills, problem solving abilities, verbal and visual dexterity, physical capabilities, and social skills needed to cope in the adult world are all improved – often without even trying! 

The exhibit could not have happened without the help of the community, which responded to the Galt’s call for toys that went out earlier in the year. Over 60 of the toys and games on display have been loaned by people in southern Alberta. The Esplanade Museum in Medicine Hat has also loaned items from their collection.

“It was such fun to ask the community for their participation,” says Aitkens, “to learn what they still had in their games’ cupboard – some had been put away for future use by grandchildren, others are being used regularly. Some of the stories behind the toys range from obsession with Lego, to dressing up as a child, the importance of books, and various snippets of memories. These are incorporated with interesting historical tidbits into the artifact labels.”

Historically, toy production went from handmade toys, to being purchased from an itinerant merchant, to those manufactured en masse in factories and sold in large local department stores and catalogues, to toys based on television and movie characters, to high tech computerized games sold and played globally online.  Each toy or game related to the society in which the children were being raised.

Programs reflecting the Toys & Games theme will be offered throughout the fall, including weekly family activities during Saturdays at 1:00 running through December; presentations on the first and third Wednesday monthly as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; The Curator Presents… in October; and special topics at the Galt Workshops Series offered October through December.

The Toys & Games festivities kick off with Museum Community Day on Saturday, October 1 from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm with free admission all day, and activities including a giant game of snakes and ladders and a Teddy Bear Hospital – kids! bring your teddy bear in for some tender loving care. ArtWalk activities are also free, and include the 3 Dimensions Sculpture Show and afternoon demonstrations.

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