From wire vehicles in South Africa to plastic bottle dolls in Aruba, the children's art of toymaking remains a global phenomenon, even in the face of increasingly mass-produced and mass-marketed playthings for children. At home and abroad, young people everywhere continue to creatively refashion the most common of castoff materials into handmade toys and games of renewed meaning, pleasure, beauty, and education.

WorldPlay: Children's Toys from Around the World is a compendium of related projects designed to celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of children around the globe through a look at the toys they make, market, and play with. Through a series of public events, traveling interactive and interpretive exhibits, in presentations, television programming, and publications scheduled to coincide with the millennial celebrations, WorldPlay will bring this universal children's activity to the attention of a global audience and provide a multifaceted window on the local customs and contexts which surround the making of and playing with handmade children's toys and games.

In an age when we are inundated with the mass-mediated images, advertisements, and products of the international toy industry, this series of projects is designed to reacquaint local audiences to a type of kid-centered creativity that flourishes in every neighborhood and community from New York to New Zealand. The toys that children make in their own backyards and street corners reflect the things that interest them in their everyday world – moving vehicles, miniature households, fantasy animals, and animated figures – as well as objects they witness in the national news, and in the global media-rifles, movie stars, Barbie dolls, military helicopters, and spaceships. Whether recycling a handful of old wire and plastic bottles, or cutting up paper and used cloth, children everywhere -- from Africa to the Americas -- combine their own imaginations with their own culture's colors, symbols, and histories to create toys for everyday play, festival celebration, and entrepreneurial adventures.

The children's presentations, exhibitions, and outreach programs designed and coordinated by WorldPlay will provide a broad context for understanding how, why, and for whom these toys are produced and consumed. Through an innovative, child centered approach to the topic of children's handmade toys and games, WorldPlay is designed to target a broad audience, including some who are traditionally under served by the museum and festival environments such as ethnic minorities, families, the elderly, and most importantly, the children who are featured inventors, producers, players, and vendors of these ingenious and imaginative handmade toys.
Sharon Mnich co-founder of Worldplay
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