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x0x The Toy Museum

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  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more on this subject by visiting the pages selected for you by Anita Donohoe: http://turkradio.us/k/oyuncak ] x0x The Toy Museum By FUSUN AKAY Istanbul
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2008
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      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:
      http://turkradio.us/k/oyuncak ]

      x0x The Toy Museum


      By FUSUN AKAY

      Istanbul finally has a toy museum, and the name of
      its founder will come as no surprise: poet and
      writer Sunay Akin. Akin, who discovered the museum
      game by arranging his mothers jewelry in a drawer
      at age six, has never lost his enthusiasm for it.
      Now he has brought together toys of the world in
      an historic mansion in Istanbul's Goztepe
      district. Some 4 thousand toys, produced from the
      late 1800s up to the 1980s, are assembled here in
      a museum that will teach tiny visitors about the
      past and imbue them with an awareness of history
      while taking adults on a journey back in time. The
      museum opening is scheduled for 23rd April
      Children's Day, which was instituted by Ataturk as
      a gift to the world's children. Opening on this
      special day, when children from all over the globe
      converge on Turkey for the celebration, the museum
      will sweep away the mists of time, arousing by
      turns laughter and moments of strong emotion.

      A toy is something that a child plays with for a
      while and then either casts off or gives away when
      he's tired of it. Where did you get the idea of
      combining this with the concept of a museum?

      When I was six years old I came to Istanbul with
      my family for summer vacation. I saw the
      museums-Topkapi, the Archaeological Museums...
      When we got back to Trabzon I took a large drawer
      out of the dresser and put my mother's jewelry in
      it. Bracelets, earrings, necklaces... I wanted to
      take them outside and play with them with my
      friends. But none of my friends would play. My
      'museum game' soon came to an end anyway when my
      mother stuck her head out the window and let out
      an earsplitting shriek.

      The dictionary defines a toy as 'something that
      entertains'. What do toys mean to you?

      A toy is the single solid bridge between a child
      and his parents, a means of communication. But
      perhaps most important of all, cultures are born
      of toys...

      What, for example?

      They're going to plunge like deep sea divers into
      a journey to the depths of their souls. So they'd
      better bring their oxygen tanks with them or else
      they could get the bends! Looking at a toy can
      trigger a vivid memory of a moment a person may
      not have recalled in years.

      He may see in that toy a childhood friend, or
      perhaps better understand the father who was
      unable to buy him that toy. Or perhaps he'll see
      his mother or his aunt playing with the toy on the
      living room rug. This can be an extremely
      devastating experience...

      And when children go through the museum?

      Above all else they are going to understand what
      culture is. They are also going to see that the
      thing they love best has a history. Friends of
      mine, for example, who have gone through the
      museum with their children have told me: "When we
      got home, my boy gathered up all his toys for the
      first time and arranged them neatly on shelves."
      At the very least we will teach children to value
      the objects they own.

      How many toys are there in the museum and how did
      you develop the collection?

      That's a very important question. I never set out
      to create a collection. I bought my first toy with
      the idea of founding a museum. That toy was a
      horse made between 1910 and 1920 that I bought
      from an antique dealer in Berlin.

      With him as my mount, I arrived like Don Quixote
      at the place where I am today. At present there
      are approximately four thousand toys. But I am
      continuing to acquire more, and I also accept
      donations.

      Is the exhibit arranged according to any
      particular scheme?

      Design artist Ayhan Dogan and his colleagues had a
      big hand in the arrangement. What we wanted was
      that this not be a place where the toys are lined
      up on shelves. That's why the museum has been
      designed like a series of stages in a theater.
      Every room is a stage. And the visitors are the
      players...Some sections of the museum have themes,
      others don't. Space toys, for example, are
      exhibited in the 'Outer Space Room'. Ships and
      airplanes are exhibited together in another room
      to symbolize travel, the dream of going beyond the
      horizon. . In the 'Circus Room' you'll find a
      concept of entertainment from a hundred years ago.
      We also included the shop of the 'Toymaker of
      Eyup', who started the history of toy-making in
      Turkey. You'll find there an old man making a toy.
      In another room there are paper toys together with
      fire trucks...

      There's also a room based on the concept of the
      weapon as a toy. That's probably the one that will
      leave the most profound impression on visitors. We
      are going to decorate the walls of that room,
      which will contain toys made during the Nazi
      period, with photographs of the children who died
      in the concentration camps. Anne Frank is one of
      them... I've also put cars and monkeys together in
      one of the rooms since I believe that love of the
      automobile has turned people into monkeys. In
      short, the arrangement is a little whimsical, like
      writing a poem...

      You say that the imagination is always a step
      ahead of science and that a toy lies at the heart
      of many an invention. Based on this, can we say
      something about the future by looking at toys?

      Before he went to the moon, man made toys that
      could go there... a car, for example, open on top,
      a train, and a ship, all for going to the moon. If
      it hadn't been for those toys, Apollo 11 would
      never have happened. Following the First World
      War the Germans made the most wonderful toys. The
      German achievement is indisputable.

      Then, in the 50s and 60s the Japanese produced the
      best toys. Today it's China. As for the future,
      you decide...

      So, when you consider toys from the standpoint of
      'design', what do you see?

      As far as design goes, there are two important
      milestones in the history of toys. The first is
      the period of the steam engine. It was in those
      days that mechanical windup first toys appeared.
      Of course motion pictures have also had a major
      impact on toys. Almost all the characters are
      taken from the movies. But children have added a
      lot to toys, too. The second milestone was the
      battery. Toys were now able to move independently
      of the child while the child sat back and watched.
      Today we have computer games. Movement in these
      games is more functional, more multi-faceted, but
      it's also farther removed from the child because
      the player is not actually part of the scene but
      more like a slavish appendage. The child used to
      be the actor, now he's just an 'extra'.

      Do you have other dreams waiting to be realized?

      Yes, of course. I'd like to found a children's
      museum in memory of Dr. Besim Omer. Dr. Besim Omer
      is the man who opened Turkey's first birth clinic
      in 1892 despite a ban by the Ottoman palace. His
      hospital building is still standing and I would
      like to open a 'Museum to being a child in
      Istanbul and in Anatolia' there. It would have
      everything under the sun relating to children in
      it, from kids' clothing to the statues of children
      found among archaeological ruins.
      --------------------------------------------------
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