Jordan Greenlee, Director of Administration, Museum of Science & History

Jordan Greenlee, Director of Administration at the Museum of Science & History, talks about bringing Toytopia — an exhibit highlighting popular toys and games of the twentieth century — to the Jacksonville, Florida museum.

Tell us about the Toytopia exhibit.

The Museum of Science & History of Jacksonville is hosting Toytopia, an exhibit created by Stage Nine Design and distributed by Exhibits Development Group, through May 16, 2021. Toytopia features compelling and beautiful displays of toys, games, and arcades that encourage visitors of all ages to engage in play with iconic toys and learn the history of toy making. The exhibit includes the world’s largest Etch A Sketch, working arcades from the 1970s and 1980s, a life-sized Dollhouse, and a giant electronic Piano that visitors can play with their feet.

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In what ways does the exhibit explore the connection between learning and play?

Toytopia intersects learning and play quite literally with the toys and games represented in the exhibition. Retro arcade games underscore the history and evolution of gaming. Components such as the life-sized dollhouse show how society and expectations of the types of play in which children participate have changed over the 20th century.

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What are some of the interactive elements incorporated into the exhibit?

Many of the components within Toytopia are interactive to one degree or another. Interactives include everything from push-button audio content explaining toy-making concepts to fully playable games available in the exhibit. Games include competitive life-sized versions of Connect Four and Battleship, but also precursors to modern video games in the style of arcade cabinets. However, with the coronavirus pandemic, some components either have been removed or modified for public safety.

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What aspects of toys and play might surprise people as they tour the exhibit?

Toytopia highlights several key developments in the history of toys over the course of the 20th century – the myriad of ways in which current events, holidays, technology, and popular culture influence what children play with are notable themes that guests may find surprising. The marriage of movies and popular toys receives significant attention throughout the exhibit, as seen in the Big Piano, Star Wars, LEGO, Toy Story, and other iconic examples that are featured.

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What do you hope people take away from their time at the exhibit?

We want our visitors to rekindle their passion for toys and play, to engage their imaginations, and to learn some things about the history of our favorite childhood possessions. We hope that our visitors leave their experience with Toytopia with the reminder that play should not be restricted to just children.

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Learn more about MOSH and the Toytopia exhibit.