Photo Highlights from MoMA’s Survey of 20th Century Design for Kids

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At the turn of the last century, Ellen Key, a Swedish social theorist, design reformer, and key figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement, predicted that the next 100 years would be the century of the child. In an enchanting exhibition of the same name, the Museum of Modern Art presents a survey of design for children named after Key’s incredibly influential book that inadvertently became a call to action challenging designers the world over to encourage imagination. As the exhibition catalogue states, “working specifically for children has often provided unique freedom and creativity to the avant-garde.”

MoMA’s ambitious show is a stunning representation of the invention of childhood and the design it inspired. Spanning every medium, from graphic design to furniture design, the bold show includes fantastical wooden puppets, geometric wardrobes, miniature linen coats, inflatable giraffes, and space age play structures that celebrate the wonder of childhood. From radical wooden wheelbarrows to the coolest red scooter you’ve ever seen, click through to preview this must-see exhibit.

Child’s wheelbarrow by Gerrit Rietveld, 1923, manufactured 1958

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Build the Town building blocks by Ladislav Sutnar, 1940–43

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Teaching materials for Maria Montessori by Baroni e Marangon, 1920s

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Skippy-Racer scooter by John Rideout and Harold Van Doren, 1933

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Series of Personifications of Childhood Misdeeds by Minka Podhájská, 1930

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Glass desk by Gio Ponti, 1930 and a child’s chair designed for Wassenaar kindergarten by Piet Zwart, 1935

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Marcel Breuer’s B341/2 chair and B53 table by the Thonet Company, 1930-31

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Still from the film Muž z prvního století (Man from the first century)by Oldřich Lipský, 1962

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Indoor play area by Renate Müller, 1985

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Geopark by Helen + Hard AS, 2011

Image credit: The Museum of Modern Art, New York