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This symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition Swedish Wooden Toys at the Bard Graduate Center (Sep. 18, 2015–Jan. 17, 2016). Five papers will extend the conversation about toys as designed objects and as cultural forms beyond the gallery to explore their relationship with notions of children and childhood. The speakers, who include historians and critics of art, design, and cultural history, will address a variety of toy-related subjects from the eighteenth century to the present across Europe and the US.


James E. Bryan
Associate Professor, Art History, University of Wisconsin-Stout
“Material Culture in Miniature: ‘Nuremberg Kitchens’ as Inspirational Toys”

Megan Brandow-Faller
Associate Professor, History, Kingsborough College, City University of New York
“Child’s Play: Artistic Toys and the Invention of Child Art in Secessionist Vienna”

Robert Goldberg
Faculty, History, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn
“Political Designs: Children’s Toys and Social Change in 1960s and ’70s America”

Colin Fanning
Curatorial Fellow, European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Philadelphia Museum of Art
“Building Kids: Design, Creativity, and LEGO”

Alexandra Lange
Architecture and Design Critic, Curbed, Dezeen
“After Wood: The Plastic and the Digital in Contemporary Toys”


Convened by the exhibition co-curators
Susan Weber, Founder, Director, and Professor, Bard Graduate Center
Amy F. Ogata, Professor, Art History, University of Southern California

Swedish Wooden Toys is generously supported by Proventus AB and Gregory Soros with additional funding from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

Special thanks to the Consulate General of Sweden in New York, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, and Schylling Inc.