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MoMA

CENTURY OF THE CHILD ONLINE

Century of the Child Online

Screenshot of Century of the Child exhibition website

Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 is an exploration and celebration of modern design for children in the 20th century, bringing together designers and artists from around the world. When we decided to create an exhibition website we wanted to share this sense of play and adventure. Luckily we found a group of playful collaborators at Hello Monday, a firm based in New York and Copenhagen, which seemed doubly appropriate since there is such a strong Scandinavian and Nordic strand in the show.

Screenshot of Century of the Child exhibition website

This site brings together a selection of images from across the seven sections of the exhibition, and includes supporting text about the objects and exhibition. In the coming days we will continue to refine the site, but we welcome you to check it out at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild.

Screenshot of Century of the Child Tumblr site

As an added element, we’ve also launched a Tumblr site that will publish an object a day for the 100 days of the exhibition. Follow along at centuryofthechild.tumblr.com.

We’ll continue to share stories on this blog, so keep an eye out for more videos and interviews.

Comments

I was horrified and very disturbed to see a board game in the
German exhibit that had a swastika in the center and heil hitler
around the borders. Many millions of people were murdered by
followers of Hitler and I don’t think that game should have been so
casually included. The exhibiting of such objects would give heart
to those who still cling to Hitler’s ideas.

Thank you for your comment, Adele. That piece is definitely shocking, and the curators included a note about it within the exhibition and on the website (http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/centuryofthechild/#/timeline/children-body-politics/sakampf-board-game) to help give context. In that section of the exhibition, “Children and the Body Politic”, the curators chose a few objects that illustrate how children were implicated in war and propaganda through design, including in some unusual and brutal ways such as that board game. They write in the section introduction:

Despite the Romantic ideal of modern childhood as a time of innocence to be preserved, children could not help but be implicated in the major political tendencies of the twentieth century. As symbols of domestic life, national identity, and the future, they were one of the key motifs in visual propaganda from the 1920s through World War II. During this time, many politically engaged modernists used their skills to proclaim the benefits to children of radical social change, as well as highlight the collateral damage they suffered in wartime. Designers were recruited for the causes of various state-run and political youth movements, to design uniforms, magazines, and environments, such as for children’s clubs in the Soviet Union and children’s colonies in Fascist Italy.

Children became the focus of patriotic consumption on the part of their parents, and there was a growing demand throughout Europe, the United States, and Japan for modern books, clothing, and toys that would inculcate the appropriate political beliefs, thereby transposing adult politics into the imaginary and material worlds of children. But an equally powerful theme emerges: design as a therapeutic agent for children damaged by war, informed by the unshakeable belief of many artists and educators in the power of design to transcend politics and heal wounds.

Congratulations for the exhibition. It is a very nice idea to “recover” objects and memories from the past.
We are working on creating memories for the following century!

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