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Temporary Exhibit

Poster of the exhibit

Dolls and toys :
the awakening of the 5 senses

March 25 to Septembre 28, 2008

-------------- An exhibit to be discovered with your 5 senses

The new temporary exhibit of the museum deals with the role of dolls and toys in the awakening of children's senses, from 1850 until today. 200 pieces related to the 5 senses are presented. Beautiful toys can charm your eyes, pieces of dolls can be touched, various smells of toys can be smelt and candies with the shape of toys can stimulate your taste before discovering the exhibit.

This exhibition will enable adults to appreciate the great variety of dolls and toys awakening our senses and will help children discover their own 5 senses through the toys and dolls exhibited.

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-------------- The 5 senses explained to children

What are the 5 senses ? sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste. Each sense is related to a part of the body : we can see through the eyes, we can ear through the ear, we can touch through the skin, we can smell through the nose and we can taste through the tongue and the palate. The senses give our brain information on all the things that surround us. Without them, we would not feel anything. The senses give us pleasure but also advice us about any danger.

--- sight ---

The sight is the sense that enables us to see and analyze our surroundings by the reception an interpretation of light rays coming to us through our eyes. It’s the most appealed sense and also the one that influences us the most.
As a matter of fact, we often close our eyes to get a better concentration on the other senses. About 80% of all the information we receive comes from our eyes. Among all our sensorial organs, the eyes are the ones that have the greatest capacity to accumulate detailed information. For taste or touch, we need to have a direct contact with the object. As for smell, even though some smells can travel, we need to be quite near them to be able to feel them. Finally, hearing, that is the less developed for mankind, needs artificial help in order to facilitate the perception of sounds coming from far away.

--- hearing ---

The ear is the hearing organ, it enables to feel sounds : their frequency from the sharpest to the lowest, their intensity measured in decibels from the weakest to the strongest. When they are organized and harmonized they create music and words. Inconsistent and disorganized, they create noises and buzzing that can be very annoying or even unbearable. One can hardly bear the noise above 100 decibels. Sounds give us some information at all times on our environment and the listening functions as an alarm enabling us to adapt to any situation.

---- touch ---

The skin is the touch organ. The tips of the fingers, the sole of the feet and the lips are the most sensitive parts of the body. There are 3 types of feelings, related to the touch that induce emotions : tactile sensations (in order to know the weight, the size, the consistency of the objects), pain sensations (when we hurt or sting ourselves), temperature sensations (to feel the heat or the cold). The touch is absolutely indispensable to the well-being and the development. Deprived from caresses or physical contacts children can’t develop correctly.

--- smell ---

The smell finds itself deep in the nose. It’s the most neglected sense but it’s the most complex. Mankind can smell up to 3000 different scents in the air. There are 7 categories of smells : mint, floral, ethereal, musky, resinous, stinking, sour. It’s difficult to classify them, some are nice, others not and others neutral. This sense is very related to the emotion and the imagination : a smell can make the image of a memory appear to one’s mind or a wellbeing feeling related to childhood or a feeling of anguish. The senses of taste and smell are linked. If one can’t smell, one won’t be able to taste. This is the reason why food has neither taste nor smell when our nose is blocked as when we have caught a cold. Scents have always been used to purify, to help to meditate but also for the pleasure to perfume or for medicinal virtues in aromatherapy.

--- taste ---

The tongue is the taste organ. It is full of taste buds that recognize the flavor of what we eat and send the information to the brain. There are 4 categories of flavor : sweet, savory, sour, bitter. The tongue is sensitive to heat, cold, pain and consistency. It helps to recognize and appreciate the taste of food. The other senses also have an impact on the valuation of the taste. Finally, family, religious or cultural environments also orientate the food preferences or refusal.

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-------------- The role of dolls and toys in the awakening of the 5 senses

--- The stimulation of sight ---

The aim of the shape and the aesthetic of the toys given to children are to stimulate their knowledge, tastes and to inform them on the functions of the objects, their era and the material they are made of.

The fashion doll from the 1860’s reflects the esthetical canons of their period and the fashion of these beautiful ladies. Bisque is a mat porcelain cooked twice. It has been used in the making of dolls because it could reproduce the pale color of the skin of that time. The celluloid baby of the 1930’s is a sweet baby that can be cuddled and bathed, the mohair plush toy has a round and reassuring shape, the caricatured character has funny expressions…

fashion doll
photo Jean Dalmard
celluloïd babies
photo Jean Dalmard
mohair teddy bear

The toy makers have tried the make of dolls more realistic by making their eyes move thanks to various mechanisms : sleeping eyes that shut or side placing eyes that look on the sides. The makers have also included mechanisms to make dolls more real. Automatons imitate the appearance and movements of men and animals.

automaton clown
photo Jean Dalmard

Today toy makers also include lights in dolls and plush animals. For instance the « lumi doudours » teddy bear made by Ouaps lightens when baby cries.

lightening Lumi doudours
lightening Pocoyo

--- The calling out of hearing ---

The doll makers have added sound mechanisms to dolls a long time ago to make them more realistic and humanlike.
For instance the Jumeau phonograph could make sounds as soon as 1892, thanks to a miniature phonograph mechanism that was hidden inside the body. This mechanism was patented by Henri Lioret for Jumeau.
The waltzing baby and the giggling and talking baby produced by Steiner in the 1860’s also have a voice mechanism that enable them to say “daddy, mummy”.

phonograph Jumeau bébé
photo Jean Dalmard
Steiner babies
photo Jean Dalmard

From the Second Empire to the Second World war, many dolls and plush animals had various voice mechanisms. From the simple blower to the growling box, the pull out systems to the yelling box that shouts when the doll is turned up, the doll makers adapted to the ever-new technologies. In the 1960’s, Bella produced the famous “Hi Fi” talking doll with records and batteries integrated in the back of the doll. Today Bandaï sells “Doremi”, a talking doll as well as an interactive talking and musical baby.

Hi Fi doll by Bella
Doremi by Bandaï

Barbie also has been made with a mechanism producing extracts of music from movies of which she is the star. Today a doll looking like the character of Dora helps learning languages by saying a few words in English. Some toys like plush animals can also make sounds making them more realistic, for instance the bear growls, the sheep bleats, the dog barks…Who hasn’t loved the cow box that moos when it’s turned up ?

barking bulldog
musical doll
musical elephant
music box

Other plush animals have voice mechanisms that ease the game or musical mechanism which function is to appease like a lullaby. Melodies can also be found in automaton, plush animals, music boxes with dancers… Many first age plush makers produce soft toys with sweet lullabies.

--- The discovery by the touch ---

The variety of materials the dolls are made of have changed through time with the technology progress but also by considering the children’s expectations. For instance, the cold and polished bisque used in the making of dolls has progressively been replaced by composition, that is stronger and handy, and celluloid, that is lighter and waterproof. Cloth and felt have also been a softer and warmer alternative to the wood and porcelain. Raynal produced an “angel skin” doll, its soft material is just like skin.

cloth doll
photo Jean Dalmard
celluloïd babies
photo Jean Dalmard

In the making of plush animals, the material chosen is related to the soft touch : natural fur, mohair, velvet, felt, cloth, and synthetic fur… Today the toy makers always try to find a softer material for their products.

real fur dog
velvet dogs
mohair teddy bear

The stuffing of the doll’s bodies brought the babies flabbiness similar to the one of a real baby. On the same way wood fibers, straw or bran used initially in the stuffing of plush toys have been replaced by various material offering a soften and nicer touch : natural kapok, wool foam rubber, balls… For instance the “Teletubbies” produced by Tomy mix soft plush and balls stuffing in the hands and feet.

--- Perception through smell ---

Dolls and toys have long smelt only of the material used in their composition (celluloid with a camphorated smell, stuffing wood sawdust or straw) or the smell that impregnated them through time (perfume, dust…).

Today many toymakers deliberately perfume their products that children smell with great pleasure. For instance the famous “Strawberry shortcake” and her friends perfumed with lemon, banana, plum…

Charlotte aux fraises and Mimi citron

Corolle perfumes its sensible babies with vanilla, “Barbie surfer girl” and her friend Steven smell monoï… A brand of soft toys named “arom’inals” has been created by Tomy in which each animal is related to a smell having a stimulating or appeasing function.

--- The reference to taste ---

The taste hasn’t been awaken through edible toys or dolls but through games related to cooking and food such as tea sets, cakes’ shapes, fake food and products presented in miniature groceries, oven, stove, recipes, cooking books…

fake food
fake boxes
tea set
cake moulds

On the contrary, cakes, chocolate, almond paste and candies have been made with the shape of toys like bears, dolls or characters of the childhood world.
There are also, in north India, Mexico, Syria, Egypt or Sicily, an unknown world of sugar statues and figurines. Purely white highly colored, they appear on the markets a few days before a fair and usually disappear on the same day in the stomachs.

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Around the exhibit...

Special exhibit workshop for children "Making of perfumed dollies"

Workshops to make perfumed dollies are scheduled, every Wednesday, for children from 4 to 12 years old. Stuffing, drawing and choosing of various smells are made by the children who will leave with 2 perfumed dollies.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Tale sessions for children

Story telling sessions related to the temporary exhibit are given for children from 3 years old.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Educational tours of the museum for children and families

The museum has set up educational tours especially for children of 5 and over and their parents. These tour begin by handling dolls' parts from various periods and end with a visit in the permanent rooms.

With reservation 01 42 72 73 11

Birthday party with dolls

Have your birthday party with your friends and dolls.
unguided tour with an educational questionnaire or educational tour + cake (not provided) + story time or workshop

Adjustable package with reservation 01 42 72 73 11.

Torch tours of the museum - NEW !

Do the dolls wake up at night when the showcases are turned off and the visitors leave ? Come for a tour of the museum with director, Samy Odin, and discover by the light of his torch, the pricate history of these wonderful dolls of the past.

A Saturday par month, with reservation 01 42 72 73 11

How much is my doll worth ? Doll appraisals

How much is my doll worth ? When was it been made ? When? By whom ?... M. Odin, director of the museum and specialist in dolls will answer publicly all your questions, on presentation of your doll after your visit to the museum.

A Saturday per month, with reservation 01 42 72 73 11

A specialized shop – bookstore

The Museum’s shop is open at the same time as the exhibition rooms, and is also available on this website.

Play dolls and collectible dolls, clothes and accessories, as well as a wide range of books and products are for sale.

A doll hospital and appraisals

The Museum’s doll hospital repairs antique dolls, baby dolls, plush animals... and makes appraisals.
Veronique Derez, our doll doctor, is usually there on Thursday from 1 pm to 4 pm but you can come any other day for a free estimate of the repairs on presentation of the sick dolls or plush animal.

For appraisals and doll identity card, with charge, an appointment is required on presentation of the object.

A seamstress and an antique haberdashery for dolls

The seamstress makes clothes, especially designed for your dolls.

Isabelle Banon, our seamstress, remains at your disposal on apointments on Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm to examine your projects.

Free estimate will be given on presentation of the doll to be dressed.

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Next exhibit from October 14, 2008 to March 15, 2009

"Par amour pour les poupées"

The most beautifull dolls of the Odin collection !

Please clic for more information

Temporary exhibits exhibited elsewhere

"Poupées et ours, les meilleurs amis du monde" - March 29 to June 25, 2008
La Nef des Jouets, 68360 Soultz

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