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Second Look

‘A Child’s World,’ Old Sturbridge Village

Mid-19th-century pull toy imported from Europe.


Mid-19th-century pull toy imported from Europe.

STURBRIDGE — Winter at Old Sturbridge Village conjures up the hardships of New England life in the 1830s during a season when finding food and keeping warm took most of a family’s energy. But every society makes time for play. A new exhibit, “A Child’s World: Childhood in 19th-Century New England,” spotlights children’s toys, games, clothing, portraits, and furniture from the museum’s collection; some have not been on display in over 20 years. Highlights include antique dolls, dollhouses, cradles, toy soldiers, children’s wagons, wheelbarrows, sleds, miniature chests, chairs, rocking horses, building blocks, and board games. Most are homemade — carved animals, board games scratched into a scrap of wood, roughly carved toy houses, and “rag baby” dolls made from bits of leftover fabric.

Children’s clothing fashions are also part of the exhibit, including dainty dresses and a rare boy’s 1820 “Skeleton Suit” — a close-fitting, high-waisted outfit often seen in paintings of the era. Nineteenth-century high chairs, “potty chairs,” chamber pots, and child tenders (a precursor to the playpen) show how families cared for babies and kept them safe at home. “A Child’s World” continues through May 27.

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 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, 800-733-1830,, adults $24, ages 3-17 $8, under 3 free

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