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A unique toy exhibition in Krakow!

17 of February '22

A unique exhibition titled" ToyClinic " is underway in the former medical library of the University Hospital. The wooden display cases contain treasures, and the exhibition itself marks a pioneering effort within Wesola, which is set to undergo a transformation into a cultural district. The Toy Museum wants to show the potential of the post-hospital buildings.

fasada dawnej kliniki,
w której mieści się Klinika Zabawek

The facade of the former clinic, which houses the Toy Clinic

Photo by Wojciech Sosenko, © Toy Museum

"The ToyClinicis one of the first initiatives organized inside a redefining neighborhood. Wesoła has remained a topic that has evoked extreme opinions since the announcement of the University Hospital 's move out. Ideas for the district were attempted at the Architecture Biennial, to which an entire issue of Architecture&Business was devoted. Ideas for the development of the district continue to cause concern, as we wrote about on the portal (see here).

On the initiative of the institution Toy Museum, it was decided to initiate the exhibition "Toy Clinic" providing an opportunity not only to present a small part of the collection of the Sosenk family, but also telling about the process of conservation, the value of toys and why the modern toy industry is harmful to people and the planet.

Entering the exhibition halls, one is struck first by the diversity. In display cases that used to hold large anatomical atlases and medical items, we see dolls, screw-on toy cars, board games and teddy bears from all parts of the world. From Goat-Mother to Chevrolets. The exhibition includes not only a variety of toys, but examples of how they are preserved - referring directly to the district's former medical purpose.

The exhibition in this unique place can be seen until February 27 this year. For more information, visit the Toy Museum website (see here).

od lewej: Marek Sosenko,
Mateusz Okoński, Katarzyna Sosenko, Katarzyna Jagodzińska.

From left: Marek Sosenko, Mateusz Okoński, Katarzyna Sosenko, Katarzyna Jagodzinska.

Photo by Wojciech Sosenko, © Museum of Toys

The curators of the exhibition will talk about the collection, the exhibition, the idea of the museum and plans for the future: Katarzyna Sosenko and Katarzyna Jagodzinska.

Wiktor Bochenek: How was the idea for "Toy Clinic" born? Why such a choice of location?

Katarzyna Sosenko: The Toy Museum does not have its own premises and operates by design. For this exhibition, we wanted to show the potential of our huge collection of historical toys, as well as an interesting curatorial concept, referring to important contemporary themes. From the beginning we have been observing activities related to changing the function of the Wesoła district, we feel that this would be a great place to locate our museum, and this exhibition is a bit of a test - to see how the museum would work in Wesoła, how Cracovians would react to the museum, how the museum would manage to fit into this district. Hence the theme of the exhibition in general, which is a direct reference to the medical tradition of this part of the city and this building. "Toy Clinic" talks about the medical side of toys. Since the toys that go into the collection are often damaged, they first go through a triage, or selection for a particular field of conservation. Then a decision is made whether it should be a small treatment or full surgery. The more loved the toy, the more damaged. The history of the relationship that was established with the toy is reflected in the destruction, which is why these toys are so important not only from a historical point of view, but also from a social point of view. The exhibition shows not only the history of the toy, but also the broader background - what the toy used to be and what it is today. We talk about how toys used to be expensive and valuable, which made them highly respected. They were an intergenerational item that was passed down. That's why they accumulated, "toy eras," which also represent the lives of the collection's little heroes behind the toys, including little Cracovians.

"Pony" by Dorota Hadrian in the background of the showcases with exhibits

Photo: Wojciech Sosenko, © Museum of Toys

Wiktor Bochenek: At the exhibition we can see toys from different time periods and geographic regions, but also varying in material and level of preservation. How large is the Sosenko family collection and what is in it?

Catherine Sosenko: The collection has more than forty thousand objects and has been collected for forty years. At the exhibition, we are presenting just under two hundred objects, which have been selected with the theme of the exhibition in mind. The strengths of the collection are its versatility, the richness of its themes, the uniqueness of its motifs, but also the representation of popular toys that children played with one hundred, one hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago. The collection represents the history of toys and play actually from prehistory. The largest part consists of toys from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The collection is still being expanded with new themes, such as the Barbie doll or Kinder Surprise toys, the so-called Disneyana, but also toys related to cinema or electronics so-called youngtimers, which are objects of desire for thirty-four-year-olds.

Wiktor Bochenek: What was in that space where the exhibition was located?

Katarzyna Jagodzinska: The main part of the exhibition was arranged in the former medical library hand room, in the former pavilion for infectious patients at the Medical College's Department of Medicine. This space enchanted us, for the reason that it brought to mind cabinets of curiosities - spaces standing at the beginning of modern museums, where a variety of often peculiar objects were collected. Toys, on the one hand, are a specific category, they are used for play, but they are very different because they are made of different materials - wood, metal, textiles, they serve different types of play, so the association with peculiarities has merit. The room from floor to ceiling is filled with wooden display cases, drawers and cabinets. The lockable "compartments" are perfect for displaying toys. The exhibition is also a great metaphor for the museum as an institution that collects, stores, catalogs, and creates knowledge. A museum by its very nature is a drawer space. Museum warehouses are precisely the spaces of boxes, lockers and drawers in which objects are stored. Our exhibition is a casket-like representation of the idea of collecting.

dzieła Marty Antoniak
w Klinice Zabawek

Marta Antoniak's works in the Toy Clinic

Photo by Wojciech Sosenko, © Museum of Toys

Wiktor Bochenek: You also raise the issue of the contemporary toy industry, trying to talk about the flaws of this machine. How has this been emphasized?

Katarzyna Sosenko: The starting point of the exhibition is a collection of historical toys, but we are talking about very important topics of contemporary public debate, such as ecology, recycling or the formation of consumer and aesthetic tastes. An integral part of the exhibition is contemporary art, which interacts with adults and children in a sensory way. The contemporary works shown in the exhibition convey a strong message of what a toy is today, which is mass-produced, popular and overproduced. Many contemporary toys have no higher design, material or collectible qualities. After a short life in the hands of a child, it is thrown into the trash, causing us to grow tons of plastic that pollute the earth. One of Marta Antoniak 's works shows a rash of figures on the back that was made from toys. So contemporary art is a strong stimulus.

Katarzyna Jagodzinska: Children come to the Toy Museum to learn about the toy, but also to play. We want to enchant them with the beauty of a historical toy, but we also want to show them that historical toys, just like modern ones, also broke - something chipped, a part fell off, something broke. In the exhibition we show that toys are worth repairing. Sometimes the repair is done by imperfect methods, it is seen in several cases in the exhibition that the toy was repaired by home means using materials that were at hand. It's great that in was repaired and not thrown away, and ended up in the collection of the Sosenk family. We show toys in various stages of wear and tear, from those that are just waiting to be repaired to those that, once repaired, are stunning in their beauty.

poradnia naprawy zabawek na

toy repair clinic on display

Photo by Wojciech Sosenko, © Toy Museum

We talk to children about what toys they like and what they do when something breaks. In the section with historical toys, we say that it's a good idea to repair them, while contemporary art, in particular the works of Marta Antoniak, allows us to show that toys can also be recycled, used as artistic material. At workshops, of which we have a whole range on offer - both for groups that visit us in crowds during the week and individual visitors at weekends - we invite you to make toys with your own hands. Some of them are references, to the toys we show at the exhibition. At the exhibition we also show how toys from the collection are repaired. The creator of the collection, Mr. Marek Sosenko, talks about conservation methods and gives advice on how to repair a broken toy at home.

Wiktor Bochenek: Does the Toy Museum pin its hopes on the location, i.e. the Wesoola district?

Katarzyna Jagodzinska: Yes, we hope that the Toy Museum will find its home in Wesola. We are very pleased with the favor of the city and the Cracow City Development Agency, which manages the buildings on Wesola bought by the city from the University Hospital. "The Toy Clinic" could not have taken place if it were not for the city grant and the commitment of many people. The words "Wesoła" and "toys and fun" complement each other perfectly. The district offers great conditions for the program activities we have in mind. There is a lot of greenery, a lot of open land, it is quiet, and on the other hand it is the center of the city, it is easy to get here from different directions. We would like to implement activities from spring to autumn season not only in the interior, but also offer outdoor activities. We could recreate the games of our childhood or of our parents and grandparents, implement outdoor activities in the form of reading fairy tales, theaters, bedtime stories. The direction of the neighborhood's transformation, which resounds in expert discussions or consultations with residents, i.e. toward a cultural and recreational neighborhood, would also be an opportunity for a neighborhood with which we could undertake joint program activities. This is an opportunity for creative ferment, to which the Toy Museum could contribute a great deal. Now the "Toy Clinic" is one of the few attractions in the neighborhood - there is a Botanical Garden nearby, but it's a little-visited place in the winter season - and you can see that the museum is bringing life here. Some people spend hours playing with us. There are people who come back to us. Children ask their parents when they will come again. Whole kindergartens, different classes from the same schools come to us. We already have a steady audience, which is a potential for the future. Students and lecturers from the Academy of Fine Arts are our regular guests. We are also developing cooperation with Krakow institutions. "Toy Clinic" on a small scale shows our philosophy of action, our potential and our possibilities. We are open, eager to act, willing to cooperate, we want to be a place where people want to spend time, where they feel comfortable, where they can get involved in something - if they like, where they can discuss. The Toy Museum will be a place to learn and create, but it also needs to be a place of fun.

Wiktor Bochenek: Thank you for the interview!

dyrektorki Muzeum Zabawek
w Krakowie, Katarzyna Sosenko i Katarzyna Jagodzińska w Atelier fotograficznym Wojciecha Sosenki zorganizowanym z okzaji Dnia
Babci i Dziadka.

Directors of the Museum of Toys in Krakow, Katarzyna Sosenko and Katarzyna Jagodzinska at Wojciech Sosenko's photo atelier organized on the occasion of Grandmother's and Grandfather's Day.

Photo by Wojciech Sosenko, © Museum of Toys

compiled and interviewed by Wiktor Bochenek

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