The exhibition Playful wants to tell you about the wooden toys, the people who created them, and the places where it all happened. The toy manufacturers in Småland were once numerous and prosperous. The conditions were good, with the availability of lumber and the many waterways that made it possible to establish factories. The exhibition explores Småland’s industrial history, characterized by cleverness and craftsmanship. Today, when most toys are made of plastic and electronics and imported from countries with cheap labor, we want to highlight a different time and a particular industrial and cultural heritage.
The exhibition is also about play. A child jumps into a puddle of water, and some make a hut out of soft pillows or pretend to be pirates. Play has many forms and expressions. The Human being is a playful creature and the specie that plays the most and for the longest time. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, or cultural background, we all have experience playing. But why do we play, and what is the meaning of play? What happens when we play?
Another creature that likes to play is the otter, the animal that represents Småland. The otter is your mischievous companion throughout the exhibition. There’s something fun waiting around every corner, and before you know it, you’ll have learned a lot about toys and play.
One more thing: Remember to play more! Even adults!
Play builds trust and stimulates imagination and empathy, but it is also an important exercise for creating order in a world full of impressions and events. Play increases our ability to cooperate and solve problems and is crucial for our development. “The Human being is only fully human when playing,” wrote the German philosopher Friedrich Schiller back in the 18th century. It still applies today. So, what are you waiting for? Welcome in!
Playful opens April 1th 2023 in Smålands museum.