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Toy Boom! Toys from the 1950s & '60s

Oct. 4, 2019, through Jan. 3, 2021

The Baby Boomer era (late-1940s to mid-1960s) was a time of great abundance for middle-class America.  Economic prosperity was at an all-time high and the influx of television helped propel a new middle-class into a consumer-driven society. 

Additionally, a soaring birthrate made the country a child-focused culture.  These children, however, grew up in a time of great dramatic change and parents were caught between a familiar past and a complex future. Toys would help children find their correct place in society, or so parents wanted to believe.  These toys reflected the energy, ambition, and abundance of a prosperous era, but they also channeled the uncertainties of the period.

“The baby-boomer years were a time of more in America… including more toys,” says Katie Edwards, the curator of popular culture at the North Carolina Museum of History. “We created this exhibit to help North Carolinians reflect on their paths from childhood to adulthood, including the toys that paved the way.”

The artifacts in Toy Boom are curated into unique environments, including TV westerns, space age, zany toys, creative toys, dolls, action figures and more.

Visitors can see toys come to life with fun, hands-on interactive activities. Attendees can look forward to reliving their childhood with a larger-than-life Twister board, a giant Lite-Brite wall, an Etch A Sketch station, working Hot Wheels racing tracks (complete with inversion loops), a “Name that Tune” game featuring TV Westerns, and digital Christmas catalog stations where visitors can digitally flip through pages to look at vintage toys.