ROM acquires new collection of handmade toys
Toy-making is probably the most overlooked of Mexico’s rich popular art traditions. Despite exhibiting great ingenuity, imagination, and creativity, Mexican folkloric toys are sadly under-represented in museum collections.
Recently, ROM acquired Mexican folkloric toys collected by Hanni Sager in various parts of Mexico in the late 1970s.
Toy-making was a cottage industry, with specialized types originating in different regions of Mexico. These toys were largely sold in local markets as playthings for poorer children, although some could be found in tourist craft stores.
Many of the toys were also used in, or otherwise tied to, traditional cultural events like the Day of the Dead. During the 1980s, toys handmade for sale became a rarity in Mexico as children came to prefer mass-produced plastic toys that could be acquired at competitive prices. Sager had passed her collection on to the Creative Spirit Art Centre in Toronto, but when the organization closed its doors in 2019, the collection was offered to the Museum. In this regard, the ROM is very fortunate to have been offered this collection of some 77 toys. The objects considerably enrich our existing collection of Mexican craftwork.