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Take a step into the recently opened Toy Museum of Brooklyn and the faint strain of carousel music captures the ears, harkening you back to the innocence and fantasy of childhood.
And among the museum display cases are toys that reflect the generations of the 20th and 21st century - from teddy bears named after Theodore “Teddy’ Roosevelt” to Raggedy Ann dolls to Barbie to Cabbage Patch dolls; and from Play Dough to electric trains.
The museum, located on the second floor of St. Ann’s Church, 157 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, is the brainchild of Marlene Hochman, who discovered there were few places in the city to do research when she wrotebooks on dolls in the 1990s.
“I found it unusual that we had no museum on toys because the toy industry was born in New York City through merchants,” recalled Hochman. “Then I found out toy museums were all over the country and the world, but nothing here in New York City.”
Among the successful toy merchants whose story is told are Brooklyn immigrants Morris and Rose Michtom, who in 1903 read a newspaper story of then President Theodore Roosevelt sparing the life of a baby bear he came upon while hunting.
Rose apparently had been sewing a little creature that looked like a bear for their storefront toy shop on Tompkins Avenue.
The couple wrote Roosevelt asking if they could call their little toy bears a “Teddy” after him. The president responded with a letter that it would be fine with him.
Thus, the Teddy Bear was born and it sold like hotcakes.
The Michtoms eventually turned their growing company into Ideal Toys,also famous for the Magic 8-Ball toy and Rubik’s Cube.
The Toy Museum home comes after Hochman has been putting traveling toy museum shows on across the city for the past 10 years. This includes permanent two toy museum exhibits at the Brooklyn Heights and Bay Ridge Public Libraries.
“This museum is a real novelty and special place to come,” beams Hochman. “A child will come here with their parents or will bring their grandparents. Out-of-towners will come to see old toys and enjoy a nostalgic experience.
The Toy Museum also has a gift shop and toys on hand that kids can play with as they are not allowed to touch the exhibits.
“There is vintage clothing the kids can play with and a section with original Tinker Toys and other hands on toys, and we encourage children to bring their own toys here. To sit on our rug and play,” Hochman said.
The Toy Museum also can be booked for birthday parties, after-school classes and school groups. It is open Wednesday through Saturday 11a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Form more information log onto www.toymuseumny.org or call (718) 243-0820.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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