MoMA’s Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 exhibition includes objects from across the 20th century and from around the world. Certain geographic regions stood out as having a strong convergence of progressive attitudes to childhood and design throughout this period, one of the most important being the Czech Republic and the former state of Czechoslovakia. This tradition of design for children is represented in Century of the Child by objects ranging from toys designed by Minka Podhajska for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) before World War I, to a manic-looking Devil’s Candybox, colorful children’s books, puppets, and construction toys dating from the 1920s and 1930s; and in the postwar decades, by delightful animated films—Tyrlova’s Revolt of the Toys (1945) and Trnka’s Cybernetic Granny (1962)—a full-scale photomural of a space-age Sputnik play sculpture in Prague, and a variety of inflatable, squeaky toys by Libuse Niklova from the 1960s and 1970s.
In planning this Czech contribution to the exhibition, we worked with our colleagues at the Czech Center of New York, and out of that collaboration came an exhibition at the Czech Center, Orbis Pictus – Play Well. In the video above, the director of the Czech Center, in discussion with MoMA’s Juliet Kinchin, introduces the exhibition and two of the featured artists.