Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
A thousand toys from Antiquity to the present day, that’s what you can see at the Grand Palais: “Of Toys and Men” is the title of this show, which will please not only adults, but children too.
Why do children like to play? Apparently, we have to practice for life and toys are a good way to see what to expect once you’re a grown-up. Since time immemorial, children have got toys or have made them with the materials they found. And the way, those toys have changed tells us a lot about the evolution of our socities.
“Of Toys and Men” presents what you could call a history of toys in the Western world. You will see all kinds of toys, from antique dolls to flying saucers, from Noah’s ark to life-like moving animals, from tin soldiers to videogames. Interestingly enough, this exhibition doesn’t only attract parents with their kids. I saw a lot of elderly people looking nostalgically at the show cases and discovering, maybe, a toy they used to play with in their childhood.
The most interesting part of the exhibition is definitely the section about gender: Here you can see how little girls and little boys were prepared very early to reproduce exactly the same patterns for generations. Whereas girls are encouraged to raise their children (dolls) and look after their home, boys are encouraged from the very beginning to discover the wild, wild word. The girls are supposed to play with their vacuum cleaners and steam irons. In contrast to the boys who quickly will be fascinated by everything that rolls, floats, flies. It’s all about velocity, power and omnipotence. Look at the toys, and you’ll understand that the archetypes haven’t really changed since women’s emancipation.
One small quibble however is the fact that children get little opportunities to touch, to handle and to play. Toys are only fascinating for them, alas, when they are allowed to use and to enjoy them.Of Toys and Men – UNTIL 23 January 2012 – FINISHED!!