Simple kinetic toys

This collection is devoted to simple articulated toys which in a flash of magic, moved either by a mechanism or physical property, create the illusion that they have come alive. Few have remained intact of these poor-man relations of the great family of automata, having been roughly handled by generations of children. However, the precious survivors illustrate the endless fascination held by children from every culture for toys that move.

Grouped by mechanism or by topic, on a theme or variation of a theme, they feed sentiments of nostalgia. Their juxtaposition also reveals developments over a period of time, as well as the surprising similarities between countries and continents.

Certainly more ‘ecological’ than the little wind- up, steam or battery driven automata, the decisive energy of these toys comes from somewhere else. One can sense this in the film, “Circus”, the film made by Alexander Calder to which the exhibition pays homage. Whatever comes into play fascinates, moves, even makes one laugh. These toys are multiple, daring concepts, examples of ingenious manufacturing, playful machines, the product of …a creative energy


“Circus” the film by Calder is included in the exhibition

As are several small films which show how the toys work

Photos Leonid Padrul, Ori Glazer et Christine Armengaud



Images of some of the toys in the collection « circus », in 36 click