MoMA's modernist design show centres on childhood

Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000 brings together modernism's most often overlooked designs
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Gerrit Rietveld. Child’s wheelbarrow. 1923. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Beeldrecht, Amsterdam
Gerrit Rietveld. Child’s wheelbarrow. 1923. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Beeldrecht, Amsterdam

MoMA is presenting the first ever large-scale overview of the modernist preoccupation with childhood. The exhibition, Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000, brings together elements until now often overlooked in design history or considered separately, including school architecture, clothing, playgrounds, toys and games, children’s hospitals and safety equipment, nurseries and furniture.

 

Jean Prouvé. School desk. 1946. Manufactured by Ateliers Jean Prouvé, Nancy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Dorothy Cullman Purchase Fund
Jean Prouvé. School desk. 1946. Manufactured by Ateliers Jean Prouvé, Nancy. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Dorothy Cullman Purchase Fund

The exhibition examines individual and collective visions for the material world of children, including utopian dreams for the “citizens of the future”. In the period children have been central to the concerns, ambitions, and activities of architects and designers both famous and unsung, and working specifically for children has provided unique freedom and creativity for the avant-garde.

 

Ladislav Sutnar. Build the Town building blocks. 1940–43. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Ctislav Sutnar and Radoslav Sutnar
Ladislav Sutnar. Build the Town building blocks. 1940–43. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Ctislav Sutnar and Radoslav Sutnar

Century of the Child brings together over 500 pieces, ranging from urban-planning projects to small design objects by celebrated designers and lesser-known figures. The show opens on July 29. Read the catalogue

 

Ford convertible toy car with original box. c. 1956. Manufactured by Marusan Shoten Ltd., Tokyo (est. 1947). Subaru 360 toy car with original box. c. 1963. Manufactured by Bandai, Tokyo (est. 1950). Bruce Sterling Collection, New York
Ford convertible toy car with original box. c. 1956. Manufactured by Marusan Shoten Ltd., Tokyo (est. 1947). Subaru 360 toy car with original box. c. 1963. Manufactured by Bandai, Tokyo (est. 1950). Bruce Sterling Collection, New York


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