Saturday, 24 September 2011 by Keith Bahlmann
Toyland! A Celebration of Childhood is now on view through December 31, 2011. The exhibit features three interpretive areas, is highly interactive and features a "Candyland" type of game to play throughout the gallery.
The interpretive areas include a ca. 1900 playroom complete with original teddy bears with button eyes, a 1950s "Toy Shop" with an acrobatic clown balancing on a high wire, and a 1980s birthday party with a Barbie camper.
The object of the Toyland! game is to be the first person to reach the playhouse by landing on the multi-colored space at the end of the path. Young visitors put on an apron and become the "token" for the Toyland! game. They spin the Toyland! wheel and move to the next respective color on the wall toward the playhouse. It they land on a pink square, they must find the matching picture on one of the exhibit cases and answer the question provided on that case. Once they answer the question, they can continue from that pink square on their next turn. The first player to reach the playhouse is the winner. The playhouse features a Barrel of Monkeys, Mr. Potato Head, a Jack-in-the-Box, and Lincoln Logs.
Visitors are also able to play one of the first video games, Atari, and can watch vintage toy commercials from the 1950s up to the 1970s. Objects on view include ET plush toys, a Wahoo game board made in Gatesville, and a little wooden paper doll. The little doll was made by the lender's mother.
The little girl would take it to church with her, and would fashion a dress for it made out of the church offering envelopes. Ginger Frembling, curator of the exhibit, said, "Visitors of all ages will enjoy and engage with the many toys in the exhibit. Youngsters will love the toys and games, and their parents and grandparents will love the toys from the past."
In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will be a drop-off point for the Santa Pal program. Please bring any new or fairly new toy that can be distributed to a child for Christmas.
The museum is located at 201 N. Main Street, in Belton. Hours are noon until 5 p.m. Admission is free and guided tours are available. For more information, please call 254.933.5243, or log onto www.bellcountymuseum.org.