Playing With Paper

September 12, 2022 - January 9, 2023

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

Playing with Paper highlights treasures from Winterthur’s Maxine Waldron Collection of Paper Dolls, Games, and Paper Toys and Rare Books Collection to illustrate the various ways people have played with paper for centuries. More importantly, it argues that such objects often have subtle, ulterior motives than simple play. Indeed, paper toys often use the disarming quality of their ephemerality to engineer political commentary, promote fashion trends, educate children, spur technical innovation, support mass market economic capitalism, and interpolate consumers into various gender and racial ideologies. From ancient origami to 18th-century fashion plates and pantins to 19th-century paper toy collections to 20th-century periodical paper dolls, the exhibit examines the enduring and endearing allure of objects made from such a versatile but ultimately fragile material.

Highlights from the exhibit and its installation at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Photos by the curator)