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NY Historical Society: Old Time Kids' Play
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Not your typical indoor activities, but loads of fun for the kids.

History and urban play

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The NY Historical Society's exhibit "The Games We Played," includes hundreds of board games from the 19th and 20th centuries.
On 4/20/02, Streetplay teamed up with Steve Zeitlin of City Lore to present a workshop for the NY Historical Society entitled "Old Time Kids Play." Offered as part of the Society's family program series, the purpose of the event was to briefly discuss the history of several popular street games and to teach young participants how to play them.

The rainy weather clearly impacted the turnout and in fact forced us to remain indoors instead of going outside to play on the buildings wide and well maintained sidewalk. Luckily the NY Historical Society has an excellent classroom, which allowed the simulation of an active and varied outdoor play area. Children learned a number of wonderful "old time" games like jump rope, skully, hopscotch, box ball, hit the coin and more.

"Old Time Kids Play" was run in conjunction with other museum exhibits related to the topic, most notably "The Games We Played."

The Games We Played
This exhibition is an exploration of board games as expressive documents of our nation's complex cultural history. More than 150 examples, displayed and interpreted for visitors of all ages, demonstrate how games entertained (and indoctrinated) American families from the end of the Civil War through the early years of the 20th century.

A majority of the board and table games in the exhibition were manufactured in New York City, then the capital of the country's burgeoning game industry. The games document the official values and aspirations of the United States as it strained to absorb millions of new immigrants, ascended to international commercial power, and experienced a shift from predominantly agrarian to urban living.


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Ralph Fasanella's "America" exhibit contains several paintings with street play themes.
America
Another exhibition currently at the NY Historical Society that has a relationship to themes of play is "America" a major retrospective on the life and work of folk artist and labor activist Ralph Fasanella. The exhibition contains fifty examples of the artists' colorful, and detailed paintings.

Fasanella's work focuses on the people and culture of the communities from which they came. In addition, his love for baseball and his appreciation for the street games of children in working class communities is expressed in a number of his works

For more information visit the NY Historical Society website (opens in new window).


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