Toys and games (world gallery - additional information)

Toys and Games

Objects that are collected by museums are also used by anthropologists as windows into peoples’ lives across the world and through time.

Observations of how toys and games are used provide similar insights into ways in which children play with each other, and how they re-enact the environment around them. In some societies, children as young as two begin to learn how to hunt by playing with small bows and arrows. In northern Tanzania, young Hadza boys practice catching insects and small mammals. In Papua New Guinea, young Bedamuni boys shoot birds, lizards, grasshoppers and small marsupials.

On display at the entrance to the World Gallery is a doll's house that was given by the Horniman's founder, world_gallery:layered_info:publish:people:frederick_horniman|Frederick Horniman to his daughter. Doll houses are classic examples of children re-enacting the world around them, literally playing with houses, the furniture, and families: reproducing their environment. A little beaded Xhosa doll can also be found in the Encounters: South Africa section. The well-loved Teddy bear, displayed in the introductory area about world_gallery:layered_info:introduction:sentiment:sentiment|Sentiment reflects childlike innocence and recalls first steps in learning to care for another thing.

It is now well-recognised that toys and games are important tools for children to learn about and interact with the world around them.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: