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Pollock's Toy Museum

Home > London > Museums | Fun for Children
by Adam Millward (subscribe)
London-based writer with incurably itchy feet always looking for the quirky and curious
Published May 12th 2010
If there were more places like Pollock's Toy Museum in the world, museums would have a whole new definition in the dictionary. Because let's face it, whether you're five or 105, who doesn't like toys?

It may be a modest establishment (set across two attached residential houses) but this is not to say that visitors are shortchanged on exhibits. Far from it. Every space has been utilised to display, from the groundfloor shop to the various living rooms and bedrooms and even the staircases leading between them.

The majority of the artefacts are from the Victorian era and range from traditional teddy bears and dolls, to parlour games to the more unusual 'toy theatres'. These model theatres were a hugely popular source of entertainment in the 19th Century, which provided a miniature physical backdrop for puppeteers and story-tellers. There are also 'toys for the boys' here in the most classical sense eg tin toys, cars, and construction-oriented play-things and not to forget a host of unique folk toys from England, Europe and beyond.

This museum really captures a magical element of social history which is so often overlooked in favour of artefacts from the 'grown up' arena. If we're honest, presented with a formal portrait painting or a much-loved teddy, there's no contest which of the objects is going to most effectively transport us back to that time and feel a connection. Teddy 1, Painting 0. Perhaps someone could put forward a suggestion for a new 'teddy' wing at the nearby British Museum...

Going back to the museum itself, the informal setting (which is contemporary to much of its contents) doesn't detract from this experience. In fact, if anything, the home environment really lets the artefacts sing in a way which would have been lost in a series of glass cabinets. As it is, walking around the house, you get to live out your own 'toy story' as you go along. Nostalgia is as much a part of this place as sand is to a desert, so be warned, this might be one museum shop which proves just too hard to walk through without looking at the end!

NB: If the museum has only served to whet your appetite, then head to Covent Garden where a more substantial Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop awaits the young and the young at heart alike.
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Why? Because toys are cool for all ages
When: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm
Where: 1 Scala Street, London, W1T 2HL
Cost: Adults, 5. Children, 2.
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