“Play!” Exhibit at the Autry Promises Family Fun For Kids and Parents

By Michael Berick

family fun

Revisit your childhood at the Autry’s new “Play!” exhibit. PHOTO COURTESY THE AUTRY

The Autry Museum of the American West (www.theautry.org) is offering families a summer of play. On June 18, the museum unveils its latest exhibit, entitled “Play!” and designed to explore “the universal aspects of play while emphasizing the changing concepts of childhood and the social meanings of toys from the 19th -21st centuries.”

What this really means is that you can see a fun selection of toys, games and other playthings culled from the Autry’s collection. You can also learn how companies based in the West, including The Walt Disney Co., Mattel and Wham-O, have shaped the ways that we play.

The exhibit’s “Go Outside!” section looks at toys and games played outdoors and the role of pets in play. “Learning to Be a Grown-up” examines children’s mimicry of adult behavior in their play. Fantasy and character toys form the core of the “Make Believe” area, while “Game Changer” focuses on the importance of technology – especially video and computer games – in the world of toys.

Each of the four sections also includes interactive elements. “Go Outside” features a reading cave and an outdoor space for games such as four square, tether ball and hopscotch. The “Grown-Up” section is home to a playhouse where visitors can also build with LEGOS. You can don costumes and perform on the “Make Believe” stage, and there are video games to play in the “Game Changer” area. While kids will have plenty of play opportunities, parents can revisit their childhood days and share memories with their children.

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