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April 18, 2013

New exhibit to bring nostalgic fun to Star of the Republic Museum

‘Toy Time’ features 16 giant, interactive folk toys with designs dating back 300 years

Museum ExhibitStar of the Republic Museum administered by Blinn College will bring toys from yesteryear to the Brazos Valley this summer with an exhibit that tumbles, slides, rocks, dances and spins.

Visitors are encouraged to play with the exhibit of 16 large-scale versions of popular historic folk toys from around the world, including “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Whimmy Diddle,” “Bird on a Pole,” “Acrobat,” “Tight Rope Walker” and “Pecking Chickens.” The toys from times gone by are crafted from wood and are reminiscent of traditional folk art.

While some of the designs date back as far as 300 years, these handcrafted versions stand as tall as six feet.

The exhibit will open in time for Memorial Day weekend (May 25) and run through Aug. 31. It was designed by Tom Wilson of Museum Productions. Designed by craftsman and former furniture maker Tom Wilson of Museum Productions, the toys represent Wilson’s nearly 40-year hobby making folk toys for his children and friends.

“This is a highly interactive exhibit,” said Wilson, former exhibit director at SciWorks Science Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. “You’re pulling and jumping, and even if you’re not participating it’s fun to watch the kids. About 25 or 30 people can be physically involved with the exhibit at one time, so when a class comes through they can all participate.”

Wilson has exhibited the larger-than-life toys in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, but the Star of the Republic exhibit marks the first time he has taken “Toy Time” west of the Mississippi River. He said he wanted to create an exhibit that evokes a simpler period, when children could entertain themselves without video games and electricity.

“Nowadays it’s hard to find a toy that’s not electronic,” Wilson said. “When we get feedback, the kids tell us they’re skeptical at first, but they really enjoy themselves. These toys are just as fun now as they were 100 or 200 years ago.”

Star of the Republic Museum is located at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site off state Highway 105.  It was created by the Texas Legislature and is administered by Blinn College as a cultural and educational institution. Daily museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 936-878-2461 or visit: