Per Gioco (For fun) – antique toys of the Sovrintendenza Capitolina

07/25/2020 – 01/10/2021

Museum of Rome

One for the child in us all, a valuable collection of over 700 specimens of antique toys recently acquired by the Sovrintendenza Capitolina are on display.  This fascinating exhibition features toys from 1860 to 1930, the so-called “golden age” of the toy, it explores the relationship between toys and objects of common use – between play and real life.  

Twenty-two rooms on the first floor of the museum come to life with the vast collection. The exhibits are divided by theme: the city and the countryside, outdoor games, children on the move, the family, work and travel.  This thematic arrangement includes a fantastic array of toys: planes and ships, castles, buildings, cars, trains, dolls and dollhouses, magic lanterns, circus and amusement park objects, paintings, street games, children’s transport objects and movement games (sleds, scooters, bikes, prams, rocking horses), play items dedicated to the home – spinning mills, looms and cast iron cookers). 

The children’s library is fascinating with 84 books from the collection including pop-up books, ‘talking’ books and fairy tales.

In the last room, a short animation is a story inspired by the objects in the collection: toys captured in even the smallest details come to life in a miniature world, against the backdrop of the city immersed in its daily activities. The video was made by the artist Francesco Arcuri – video maker and curator of the visual paths of the exhibition – with two animation techniques: stop motion and 2D digital animation.

Amongst all these wonders are some very special pieces including the 17th century dolls house of Christina the Queen of Sweden and the oldest toys in the collection: two dolls from the pre-Inca period of the 14th-15th century, one of which depicts a mother with her child in her arms.

The entire exhibition is accompanied by explanatory panels on the history of the collection and the meaning of each game, with more detailed information on the most valuable pieces.