28 November 2009 – 13 June 2010

Play is a vitally important element in children’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development: It is how we learn about the world.

Toys are the tools of a child’s play and need to be well designed to fit the purpose. The market is saturated with commercially hyped, over-packaged products with short-lived appeal. But what makes a ‘good’ toy?

As part of the exhibition, BA (Honours) Applied Arts students from Middlesex University created some design solutions. Using the Museum’s British toy manufacturing archive they designed toys in consultation with the real experts on what makes a good toy – the kids. The designers concepts were rigorously tested by a critical panel of 5 to 10 year olds.

Work by pupils from Christchurch and Swanlea Schools was also on display, exploring the versatility of the cardboard box as a plaything.

Middlesex University

Heritage Lottery Fund

Wates Foundation