The Museum of Modern Art presents Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000, an ambitious survey of 20th-century design for children and the first large-scale overview of the modernist preoccupation with children and childhood as a paradigm for progressive design thinking, from July 29 to November 5, 2012.
The exhibition brings together over 500 items, over half of which are on loan from institutions and individuals in the U.S. and abroad, and many of which are on view for the first time in the U.S. Ranging from urban-planning projects to small design objects by celebrated designers and lesser-known figures, Century of the Child brings together a number of areas underrepresented in design history: school architecture, playgrounds, toys and games, animation, clothing, safety equipment and therapeutic products, nurseries, furniture, and books. The exhibition additionally extends MoMA's commitment to highlighting the contributions of women as architects, designers, teachers, critics, and social activists, a commitment which was also foregrounded in MoMA's recent Modern Women's Project, a series of exhibitions, events, and a publication that focused on the contributions of women throughout the Museum's history. Century of the Child is organized by Juliet Kinchin, Curator, and Aidan O'Connor, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.
In 1900, Swedish design reformer and social theorist Ellen Key published Century of the Child, a manifesto for change—social, political, aesthetic, and psychological—that presented the universal rights and well-being of children as the defining mission of the century to come. Taking inspiration from Key—and looking back through the 20th century 100 years later—this exhibition examines individual and collective visions for the material world of children, from utopian dreams for the "citizens of the future" to the dark realities of political conflict and exploitation. In this period children have been central to the concerns, ambitions, and activities of modern architects and designers, and working specifically for children has often provided unique freedom and creativity to the avant-garde.
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