Girl’s Gene Autry bicycle, made by Monark Silver King Company, 1950s. Donated by Mr. Bill Ward.

A new exhibition explores generations of toys and games in the American West and invites visitors to Play!

The exhibition Play!, which opened on Father’s Day and runs through January 7, 2018, launched a “Summer of Play!” for Autry visitors of all ages to enjoy not just the myriad toys on view but also playground games, movies on the Autry Lawn, LEGO days, and drop-in family activities.

Drawing on more than 200 objects from the 19th through the 21st century in the Autry’s collections, Play! tells universal stories of childhood through the toys and games of the American West. You can learn about changing concepts of childhood, the societal realities toys reflect, and how toy companies and designers such as Mattel, Wham-O, and Disney have influenced the ways we play.

Dine (Navajo) doll, 1982. Autry Museum; 2272.G.88

The exhibition captures the whimsy and curiosity of childhood and playtime, which can be experienced first hand in four sections — Go Outside!, Learning to Be a Grown-up, Make Believe, and Game Changer — Play!.

G.I. Joe Navajo Code Talker action figure, made by Hasbro Company, 2000–2015. Donated by Justin F. Farmer

“Many favorite children’s stories include a portal that invites and entices us into a secret world just beyond the everyday, whether it is the wardrobe to Narnia or the brick wall of Diagon Alley,” exhibition curator Carolyn Brucken, the Autry’s curator of Western women’s history. “We believe that when people cross the threshold into the exhibition, they will enter a transformational portal into an imaginative and surprising world.”

"Tales of Wells Fargo" electric toy locomotive, made by Louis Marx & Co., Inc., circa 1960. Donated by Mr. David Levinthal; 93.71.1

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