Société des musées du Québec

Create your own toy exhibition, just like museums do!


Mrs. A. Macpherson's children, Notman & Sandham (1880) © Musée McCord Museum

Down through the generations, they’ve brightened our childhoods… Get the family together and explore the magnificent toy collections in the museums of Québec. Then go and design your own exhibition at home, using the dolls, teddy bears and toys you have at home. Follow this guide and bring your own fabulous toy stories to life! 

Childhood treasures in museum collections

Toys are fascinating and fun for people of all ages. They remind us of the times, places and toymakers of the past… and bring back memories! Using rigorous criteria, museums acquire these objects that bear witness to our past and then carefully categorize, document and conserve them. They are then put on display in exhibitions, both on site and online, for the enjoyment of anyone and everyone who wants to see them!

The McCord Museum has an incredible collection of toys: building blocks, toy soldiers, dollhouses, and much, much more. What an amazing variety of shapes and materials!

From one decade to the next, the Musée de la civilisation takes you into The World of Toys. A wonderful collection of miniatures from the world of transportation, all made out of metal, as well as the charming Playing mosaic bear witness to joyful leisure times!

La Pulperie de Chicoutimi houses a fantastic assortment of close to 1,200 games and toys

Want to know more? The Canadian Museum of History's online exhibition Canada at Play is chock-full of information.

Aside from museums, check out some of the many private collectors who are passionate about toys and are happy to share them with you. The Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage gives the floor to Stéphane Corriveau, who discusses superb Victorian specimens, such as porcelain dolls and game books, as well as merchandising toys, such as Popeye and Donald Duck toys.

From virtual to real!

When the museums open again, go to the Pôle culturel du Monastère des Ursulines in Quebec City to visit the We Grow up by Playing: The expo where you play! temporary exhibit. 

Budding museologists, it's your turn to play!

Inspired by what you've seen in the collections? The following four steps will help you set up your own "home toy exhibition," from choosing your objects to the virtual tour!

  • Tell a story.
    Preparing an exhibition means building a story to showcase a selection of objects. What do you want to express when presenting your toys? Do you want to put your favourite toys on display or rekindle memories? Or perhaps you'd like to create a timeline of your family – from the oldest toy to the most recent? It's up to you! You'll have to make choices – some heartwrenching – from amongst your toys. The same goes for museums: we can't put everything on display. Also think about the people you want to show your exhibition to: what do you want them to discover?
  • Play with shapes, colours and lighting.
    Depending on the story you want to tell, gather up the toys in an "exhibition space," on a special shelf or table, for instance. Arrange them to show how they’re linked to one another. Each object must be clearly visible. And don't forget the lighting!
  • Introduce your toys.
    Like they do at the museum, write a label: a short text presenting each toy. Does it have a name? Who owns it? Since when? Where does it come from? What is its story? And, while you're at it, does your exhibition have a title? Time to put your thinking cap on and create some plays on words!
  • Share your toy stories.
    And here it is! The grand opening! Let the children be the guides, presenting the information and telling the story behind each object and explaining how the exhibition was created. Set up a virtual guided tour or take photos of the entire exhibition so your friends and family can admire your work.


Share your toy exhibition on social media: #MuseumFromHome #museumsQc