Exhibition Review by Maggie Hames
In 1900, Ellen Key’s book Century of the Child predicted that the 20th century would see dramatic (and welcome) changes in the life of children. Progressive thought regarding children’s rights, development, and well-being refocused society in the new century. New York City’s Museum of Modern Art has taken Key’s work as a jumping-off point for an extraordinary exhibition that is well worth your time and attention.
Teaching materials commissioned
by Maria Montessori. 1920s.
Wood, dimensions vary.
Manufactured by Baroni e Marangon,
Gonzaga, Italy (est. 1911).
Collection of Maurizio Marzadori , Bologna.
Unknown Italian designer.
Gioco delle 3 oche (Game of the 3 geese).
c. 1944. 12 ½ x 22 ½” (31.8 x 57.2 cm).
The Wolfsonian-Florida International University,
Miami Beach, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection.
But is this show for kids? Honestly, it’s for reasonably well-behaved kids; there were several at the exhibit when I was there. And while this is not a hands-on exhibit, there is a very nice pay-off for kid’s good behavior: the inter-active exhibit, Shadow Monsters invites kids (and adults, for that matter) to gesture, dance, gesticulate, and plain old jump around in front of a clever projection device that combines the user’s shadow with computer-generated puppetry and sound effects. For example, the user’s hand really can become a silhouette of a bird’s beak with feathers and spiky plumage as real bird sounds are heard. You can get an idea of Shadow Monsters from this amateur video on YouTube:
Seen at the top of this story: Minka Podhájská (Czechoslovak, born Moravia [now Czech Republic], 1881–1963). Series of Personifications of Childhood Misdeeds. 1930. Painted wood, dimensions vary, largest: 5 1/8″(13 cm) tall. Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague.
All artwork courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, used by permission. Not for reproduction or reuse.