Plush, Play & Pioneers — Women in Toy Design

Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
Ongoing Event
© henri freitag
Fri., 08 March until Sun., 27 October

Women have played a key role in creating some of the best known and most popular toys. One of them was Margarete Steiff: Her perseverance, and more specifically her soft toy “Small Elephant,” laid the foundation for the global success of Steiff. The exhibition also showcases the lives of doll makers Elena Scavini, Käthe Kruse, and Sasha Morgenthaler, whose creations are now highly coveted collectibles. The Bauhaus student Alma Siedhoff-Buscher also left her mark on toy design, not least with the small ship-building game. The Czech Libuše Niklová, meanwhile, was one of the first toy designers to create plastic figures with distinctive colors, smells, and sound effects. Caroline Märklin introduced tin toys to the product range of her family business, which her sons later expanded to include the world-famous model railways. The feminist Elisabeth Magie Phillips invented the board game “The Landlord’s Game” to share her anticapitalistic ideas. A later version of the game, “Monopoly,” came to be known worldwide. The show also features contemporary design, such as Renate Müller’s burlap animals, which were popular in the German Democratic Republic and have been used for therapeutic purposes; or the toys of Heroes Will Rise founder Cas Holman, which promote creativity in children and stand for a diverse and inclusive world.
The exhibition presents pioneering women who were, or still are, successful in the toy industry, highlighting their creative work, their working conditions, and struggle for equality. The women portrayed have had an influence on the world of toys and, through innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, have created a variety of toys that are now represented in museums around the globe.


Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
Steinenvorstadt 1
4051 Basel

Google maps