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'Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000' at MoMA

Chica modular children’s chairs. 1971 / Jonathan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino, Giorgio DeCurso, and Paolo Lomazzi
Chica modular children’s chairs. 1971 / Jonathan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino, Giorgio DeCurso, and Paolo Lomazzi

Now through November 5th, the Museum of Modern Art will be running Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000, a new exhibit that surveys modern design and innovation through the exploration of childhood development and well-being.  Prior to the 20th century, childhood was not considered a time of development for the human brain.  As Ken Johnson points out in his reviewof the exhibit, “children were considered small adults to be put to work as soon as possible”.  The 20th century changed all that and modern psychology bore a great deal of influence on investigations into childhood and development.  Modernist design followed, creating a whole new set of tools that children could interact with, learn from, and be entertained by. The exhibit has an assortment of furniture, toys, books, games and posters all designed for the child.Read on for more after the break.

The exhibit is laid out chronologically and demonstrates the changing attitudes towards what childhood is and what a child needs to develop into adulthood. The collection contains work from notable designers and theorists.

Teaching materials commissioned by Maria Montessori. 1920s.
Teaching materials commissioned by Maria Montessori. 1920s.

Friedrich Froebel, founder of the 19th century kindergarten, Maria Montessori who developed the Montessori educational program, illustrator and designer Antonio Rubino, Futurist painter Giacomo Balla, De Stijl artists including Gerrit Rietveld, and sculptor Isamu Noguchi are all participants in this assembled exhibit of creative minds essentially designing the experience of childhood.

Skippy-Racer scooter. c. 1933 / John Rideout
Skippy-Racer scooter. c. 1933 / John Rideout

In the New York Times, Ken Johnson mentions the effects of movements within modernism guided the design of the toys in the exhibit in various directions. He comments on the rise in consumerism, the changes in political ideology, and the rise in concern for hygiene and safety. The exhibit encompasses a century-long history of the challenges of child-rearing and the social concerns that dominate those perspectives.

Geopark, Stavanger, Norway. 2011 / Photograph by Emile Ashley. Courtesy of Helen + Hard AS.
Geopark, Stavanger, Norway. 2011 / Photograph by Emile Ashley. Courtesy of Helen + Hard AS.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a selection of film screenings, “Unaccompanied Minors: Views of Youth in Films from the Collection“, that will run through August 14th.  For a complete schedule, click here. via The New York Times; Hundred Year Childhood by Ken Johnson

School desk. 1946. / Jean Prouvé
School desk. 1946. / Jean Prouvé
Cite:Irina Vinnitskaya. "'Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000' at MoMA" 09 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/260215/century-of-the-child-growing-by-design-1900-2000-at-moma/>