Junk playgrounds, Odder’s perambulators, Winther’s tricycles and LEGO blocks are just some of the mainstays featured at Copenhagen’s Designmuseum Danmark’s latest exhibition. “Century of the Child” spotlights Nordic design for children dating from the present back to 1900 showcasingnot only transitional design, but the phenomenon of childhood itself.
Museum-goers get a peek at posters, toys, books, furniture, school design and playgrounds—with a particular focus on Denmark’s contributions.
“Century of the Child aims to provide a deeper appreciation of the privileges enjoyed by children today and at the same time show how the approach to design has developed throughout the period to meet the needs of the users—in this case, the children,” said Anne-Louise Sommer, museum director and exhibition curator.
The exhibition gets its name from the Swedish author Ellen Key’s book of the same title from the year 1900. Key’s philosophy, which centered on the promotion children’s development and the kindling of their creativity, serves as a the thematic thread that binds the various exhibition pieces.
The exhibition is not unlike 2012’s “Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000" exhibition at MoMa in New York, but this showcase has a definitive Nordic slant.
As well as showcasing the best of good Nordic design for children, the exhibition aims to shed light on an important chapter in cultural and social history. In the 20th century, attitudes about childhood shifted from regarding kids as small adults to an insistence that youth enjoy a happy childhood in and of itself.
Century of the Child also includes numerous play areas. Here, children can express their playfulness by producing stop-motion films using Kay Bojesen’s wooden figures, as well as romp around on bObles tumbling furniture, or design their own favorite chairs while seated at Peter’s chairs and tables.
The exhibition is on view through Aug. 30.