Play! | Mingei International Museum

Whether literal playthings or whimsical feats of the imagination, toys manifest humanity’s innate creativity and sense of humor.


This carousel pig has a pink body with an orange and green saddle attached to its back. The stir-ups are green. It also has a green neck and body collar with yellow ribbon decorating the body collar. The black tail is curled and the pig is in a running form.

Carousel Pig

c. 1890 France

This carved wooden pig with notably realistic eyes and a curly tail has its tongue twisted into a friendly smirk.

This Ark has over 200 animals made in the Alpine region of Germany, which has been a center of wooden toy making for several hundred years. This ark was made in a small factory, and has an access panel so the animals can be stored inside. The dove with an olive branch in its beak on the roof of the houseboat is a reference to the story of Noah.

Noah’s Ark

c. 1880 Germany

This Ark with over 200 animals was made in the Alpine region of Germany, which has been a center of wooden toy making for several hundred years.

Cootie Bug

1998 USA

This glass bead sculpture (aka Cootie Bug) has over 100 unique beads.

This Inuit Doll is made from a caribou antler. The body of the doll is cylindrical. Two arms and two legs are attached to body. The arms are positioned straight down to the ground. The legs are positioned out in front as if the doll was seated. The top of the caribou antler has been rounded to create a face. The mouth and eyes are open holes, while the nose was carved..

Inuit Doll

1950-1999 Alaska, USA

Dolls like this one are made from caribou antler, a renewable resource shed by the animal on a yearly basis.

This piece is a a long skinny vehicle with two small wheels at the front and two larger wheels on the back. The front three quarters of the vehicle is red/orange and the rest is black. Two figures operating the vehicle from inside the middle area.

Loco Rouge

2014 France

This strange and humorous “locomobile” was made of wood, leather, iron and various found objects.

This pair of maracas has a yellow handle. Its head it green with white geometric designs, and a red face.


20th Century Cuba

These maracas made from painted papier mache gourds embody the vivid and joyous sounds of Cuban music.

An Alebrije is a brightly colored Mexican Folk Art sculpture typically depicting a mythical creature. This Alebrije has the body of a caterpillar, 4 webbed feet and a creature-like face. It’s green with yellow spots and its underbelly is pink with red veins spidering out. It's has large, human-like ears, an antennae on top of its head. Its face has large expressive eyes, with stripes on its face and its mouth is open exposing its sharp teeth.

Alebrije (Fantasy Figure)

1978 Mexico

Charles Thunyakij, Outreach Coordinator and Education Specialist at Mingei International Museum, choose for his staff pick an Alebrije. This object of pure fantasy is constructed out of lacquered and painted paper mache.

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