Montreal

McCord Museum's exhibit puts more than a century of toys on display

From porcelain dolls to Mr. Potato Head, a collection of toys are on display at Montreal’s McCord Museum — allowing guests to venture into the past as they stroll through an exhibition room made to look like an attic.

Luggage and wooden-slat walls give guests feeling of exploring attic full of treasures

The McCord Museum's Treasures in the Attic exhibit allows visitors to see generations of toys dating back to the 1880s. (Marilyn Aitken/McCord Museum)

From porcelain dolls to Mr. Potato Head, a collection of toys are on display at Montreal's McCord Museum — allowing guests to venture into the past as they stroll through an exhibition room made to look like an old attic.

Some of those toys date back to the 19th century.

"In certain houses, under the roof, there's this mysterious room which fascinates, I would say, young and old," Guislaine Lemay told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"For some, it is just a storage facility, I guess, but for others it's really a place where family heirlooms are stored."

Lemay is the museum's curator of Indigenous culture and decorative arts. She says the museum's annual toy exhibit offers a glimpse into how children played over a century ago, and how toys have evolved.

Located on its third floor, there are some 220 items on display.

Doll houses, stuffed animals, board games, train sets, Star Wars figurines, furniture and photographs can be found in this year's Treasures in the Attic exhibit.

Lemay said it's like "childhood has been frozen in time."

While most toys are behind display cases, there are some interactive exhibits such as a giant Jenga game, a dark room to explore with flashlights and a labyrinth. (Marilyn Aitken/McCord Museum)

Guests follow the story of twins Sara and William as they visit their grandparents' house and explore their attic.

"They discover the toys from their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and their great-great-grandparents," she said, but, as the twins play, they lose track of their own, modern toys. "So we asked the children to come and help Sara and William find their toys."

Luggage, hangars, wooden slats, rafters and round windows create the feel of exploring an attic. While most toys are in display cases in chronological order, there are interactive parts of the exhibit as well.

"There's a place where the children can do a labyrinth," Lemay said. "There's a place where they can dress up and have their pictures taken."

There's a giant Jenga game to play and a dark room that guests explore with flashlights.

Listen to the full interview here:

The exhibit is on display until March 17 and is free for kids 12 and under. It targets kids ages three to nine, but, she said, it is fun for older generations as well as people reliving their past.

"It's just amazing to see how toys just bring out memories and emotions," she said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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