The premiere of Mingei International Museum was appropriately one that appealed to all ages and nationalities — FOLK TOYS OF THE WORLD. It has been said that “the higher the intelligence, the larger capacity for play.” The exhibition was a diversity of basic kinds of toys: tops and pull toys relating to the ground, kites and balls for the air and toys that float in the sea.

The exhibition and documentary publication were sponsored by The Parker Foundation.

From the Mingei International Museum documentary publication, Folk Toys of the World:

Children and adults of all times throughout the world have made charming toys by the inventive use of common materials at hand – bits of string, paper, straw, wood, clay, leather – combining all kinds of materials found in man’s environment.

Each indigenous folk toy is both similar and unique. Unique in the imaginative use of similar materials found in nature. The special individual character and culture of its maker is reflected in the color, form and use of the folk toy…

They reveal man’s intimate and affectionate relationship with the animal kingdom. In this Chinese “year of the horse,” it is particularly interesting to note the number and variety of the horse toys.

Local customs, legends and history as well as geographical environment are reflected in the materials, techniques, and use of folk toys. Conveying religious and cultural values, they speak for themselves in a way that goes directly to the heart, lifting our spirit and evoking wonder and delight.


On View: May 05, 1978 - Aug 05, 1978

Curator: Martha Longenecker

More Exhibitions


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June 17, 2017 - January 7, 2018


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July 19, 2017 - March 18, 2018


Art of the Americas

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Part of the Getty Center-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, this exhibition offers the most comprehensive presentation to date of the Museum’s significant holdings of objects used by people from the ancient cultures of Mexico, Central and South America.

September 16, 2017 - February 18, 2018



Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal

Featuring approximately 40 kantha (decorative stitched quilting made from recycled sari) from the Museum's permanent collection.

October 28, 2017 - March 25, 2018


Weaving a Path

Navajo Women and the Feminine Ethos

December 9, 2017 - May 20, 2018