Wednesday, April 23, 2008

World's Children

What do you think about a toy?

Is it only something that entertains? To me, a toy is the single solid bridge between a child and his parents, a means of communication and most important of all, cultures are bor
n of toys;)

The world's first and only doll inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's famous ''Mona Lisa'' is now on display at the Toy Museum in Istanbul.

As far as the historical background, first produced in 1954 by Fawn Zeller, a famous producer of porcelain dolls. It's reported that creating porcelain dolls that personify famous historical figures, and movie celebrities used to be a common practice in the mid-20th century in US. Being a one-kind-of piece, one of the most outstanding features of this doll, which has a porcelain head, is its clothes (above).

The doll only shows her upper body. As Zeller had to make a complete doll, she studied what apparel Mona Lisa's contemporaries might bewearing at that time, including the underwear. She designed a silk shirt and an embroidered underskirt for the doll's lower half. So the porcelain doll quite resembles the woman which is based on Leonardo's famous painting, and reflects perfectly Renaissance fashion trends from the 1500's.

Last month in March it was brought to the Museum. Since then Mona Lisa doll was capturing a huge interest of people young and old, news here. As we all know that Leonardo's painting is regarded as the Louvre's symbol, and we only see Mona Lisa's torso when visiting the Louvre. But if you come to Istanbul Toy Museum, you'll have a chance to see a complete Mona Lisa:) A good offer to think about it;)

Turn right for Istanbul Toy Museum
(Turkish: Oyuncak Muzesi)

I finally found a piece of time myself, and as it was very nice on Sunday afternoon with 27 C clear and sunny like today, I decided to meet Mona Lisa. What an excitement that I can not tell you my feelings;)

As you approach the Museum street you start noticing two giraffes welcome and greeting you, so lovely.. so funny indeed. Look at here they are:

This giraffe in front of the Toy Museum,
checking your tickets;)
Right is Museum,
white old wooden mansion

This one just standing
opposite direction of the street
looking after your going and
saying you like
'Time to go? Come again soon;)

Mona Lisa is waiting everybody at the Turkey's largest first and only private Istanbul Toy Musuem, which is a history lesson for kids and a tunnel through time for adults. Importantly, the Museum opened on April 23rd 2005, which was dedicated by Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, as a gift to the world's children. Here's the Museum entrance:

This opening date was not chosen randomly: we celebrate our National Sovereignty and Children's Day today:) It was on this day that the Grand National Assembly first met in 1923. Opening on this special day, when children from all over the globe converge in Turkey for the celebrations and parades, the Museum sweeps away the mists of time, arousing by
turns laughter and moments of strong emotion.

Yes, it's time again: Today, there are parades of children everywhere in the country, many in colorful costumes, and kids from other countries also come to ma
rch, sing and dance. Really beautiful and colorful day in Istanbul! Streets are packed with people, mostly children. Flags, balloons, flowers everywhere... Even Google did not forget the World's Children:) and here's Google's logo for April 23rd. It's still on at

For sure, happy memories are made on these days!

'The Toys of the World' was brought together in an historic mansion (a large wooden house, below) belongs to the family in the City's Goztepe district on Asian side. It's in a few meters walking distance from my home.

At present, there are approximately 4,000 toys, most of which have historical value. The oldest item in the Musuem is a toy miniature violin made in 1817 in France, a doll made in 1820 in the US.

A real heaven for everyone here! Dolls, marbles, spinning tops, teddy bears, trains, cars, puzzles, soldiers, puppets... It's also possible to see in that toy a childhood friend, or perhaps better understand his father who was unable to to buy him that toy. This can be an extremely devastating experience...looking at a toy can trigger a vivid memory of a moment you may not have recalled in years...

When I was a child, spending most of our time at home, our closest relationships after other family members were with toys. Toys even prov
ided role models for us. I remember my childhood, -no laugh;)- as a little mother I was singing lullabies to my dolls and waiting for for the father of the house to arrive on his bike. I also remember I entertained on my miniature tea services. Here's a cute doll with her set from the Museum, made in 1910 in Germany:

The museum has been designed like a series of stages in a theater:

Every room is a stage. Some sections of the museum have themes, others do not.

Space Toys are exhibited in the Outer Space Room. Ships and airplanes are exhibited together in another room to symbolize travel, the dream of going beyond the horizon. In the Circus Room, I found a concept of entertainment from a hundred years ago, that I loved very much! Another one, the shop of the ''Toy Maker of Eyup'', who started the history of toy-making in Turkey, that's also interesting one.

I got a chance to meet a very nice grand dad (above). Dutch toy-maker Theo Hasselo was kind enough to give me some info back what he does in his very nice shop located in the garden of the Museum. Theo is teaching children the art of making and painting wooden toys. He's 79 yrs-old, and has been living in Turkey for 12 years. Here's the inside of his room, and parents with their children are having fun (below). For more, see here.

It's also possible to make toys with Theo at the Chocolate House (below).

Cars and monkeys are put together in a room, since the Museum owner believed that the love of automobile has turned people into monkeys. In short, the arrangement is a little whimsical, like writing a poem...

Before going to the moon, man made toys that could go there. A car, for example open on top, a train, and a ship, all for going to the moon. If it had not been for those toys, Apollo 11 would never have happened. Following the First World War the Germans made the most wonderful toys! The German achievement is indisputable. All the toys made in Germany which I saw in the Museum approves it exactly.

So, the imagination is always a step ahead of science, and a toy lies at the heart of many an invention. When in the '50's and '60's the Japanese produced the best toys, to the information given in the Museum.

For example, The Wright Brothers were inspired by a toy when they built their first airplane! So the Toy Museum also teaches us lessons in life. When I visit the Museum, I apprehend the history and dreams of the entire societies. Besides, the toys as we know are actually objects produced by adults. They belong as much as to the world of children. That's why we being adults come away from here with even more than children do:) If we lose our childishlessness in us, and take everything seriously, so then what is left there to enjoy? I'm childish, yes, and am I ashamed of it? Absolutely not:)

Reliefs placed along the side wall of street
where Museum exists

When I consider the toys from the standpoint of 'design', there are two important milestones in the history of toys. First is the period of the steam engine. It was in those days that mechanical windup first toys appeared. Almost all the characters are taken from the movies. But children have added a lot to toys, too. The second milestone is the battery. Toys were able to move independently of the child while the child sat back and watched.

Today, we have computer games:) Movement in these games is functional, more multi-faceted, but it is also further removed from the child because the player is not actually part of the scene but more like a slavish appendage. The child used to be the actor, now the child is just an 'extra'. Next?

Today it's China. As for the future by looking at toys, you decide...;)

After my Museum visit, I got to home with a feeling to gather up my toys and arrange them neatly on the shelfs like kids;) However it could be a hard task for me to be able to find them among many more books, so I cancelled it. And I preferred to read a book having a cup of tea in a Sunday afternoon... I was thinking at very least we should teach children to value the objects they own:)

I really enjoyed finding the kid inside of me again, and all of the fun these toys gave me. I know that the kid is always in me, but sometimes she does not appear -when I am in business mode;) Just maybe you'll also find the kid inside of you again today upon reading this article, who knows:)

Ataturk loved children, and often said:
''Children are a new beginning of tomorrow.''

Marilyn Monroe set, from the Museum


  1. That was absolutely fascinating. Thank you for sharing your visit to the museum and you perspective.

  2. What a great tour! It must be wonderful to see the museum in person.

    Those giraffe's are amazing. It must be quite a shock the first time you see them on the street.


  3. @ Beverly: A Warm-Welcome, and Smiling Hello from Istanbul:) Thanks a lot for your visit. I hope you're having a good day:) And I'd love having your visit again!

    @ Darla: Yep, you're right. I remember very well there were no such a giant things before but they are just the new guests of the street:) Giving a feeling us as if we're walking in a mini-zoo, LOL:)

  4. Toys Museum was a dream of Sunay Akın. Sunay lives in same garden with their family.

    this is a cool historical street. There is a bakery on the corner of Ethemefendi avenue.


  5. I visited the Toy Museum last yesr but didn't take a picture of the giraffe, so I googled "istanbul toy museum giraffe" and found this entry :) Really nice photo, thanks for sharing!