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KEY Oklahoma City

kid size: The Material World of Childhood
Through March 20, 2005

kid size: The Material World of Childhood explores three centuries of everyday objects designed for children from around the world. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, this exhibition displays icons of design for the world of children and explores how childhood experience and identity, across cultures and across centuries, has been molded by imagination and material culture. With over one hundred pieces from Europe, China, Papua New Guinea, India, and the Americas, kid size communicates adult attitudes toward children and traces cross-cultural patterns of adult provision for children.

kid size is thematically organized into six sections: patterns of sleep, basic functions, mobility, play, learning, and seating. Among the objects represented are a Biedermeier cradle circa 1840; a baby carrier from Borneo, Indonesia; a North American Cheyenne leather, beaded cradleboard made about 1930; and a Louis XV armchair made for children.

Icons of twentieth-century design are also well represented in the exhibit with works by Gerrit T. Rietveld, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, and Philippe Starck, as well as contemporary classics produced by Creative Playthings, Fisher-Price, and IKEA. Among the highlights are outstanding examples of nineteenth century bent beechwood furniture manufactured by Gebrüder Thonet.

kid size draws upon the disciplines of design studies, social history, psychology, and anthropology to reveal the meanings encoded in each object. Images and videos also help to tell how different cultures address adult attitudes toward learning, the child’s physical and psychological development, intimacy and order in the family, personal territory, and above all the role of play. The exhibit draws upon these themes and includes a children’s play area.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is one of three venues in the United States and among a host of international venues including museums in The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan.

A 320 page catalogue with 255 color and 255 black and white illustrations, featuring essays by twenty specialists in the fields of cultural history, design theory, psychology, and anthropology, accompanies the exhibit. Admission to the exhibition is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children five and under and Museum members. For additional information, call (405) 236-3100.

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