Last weekend we paid a brief visit to Brussels toy museum with our smallest child. A couple of years ago we went to the one in Mechelen which is a lot bigger and has a wider range of stuff on display, but the Brussels version has its own charm. It’s chaotic and dusty and haphazard, and concentrates mainly on early to mid-20th century toys. It’s more like stumbling into a large attic full of old and unsorted toys than a real museum, although there are glass display cases and the occasional explanatory note.
This gigantic, limbless, featureless baby doll welcomes you after you’ve paid your entrance fee.
In one corner of the ground floor there’s a toy kitchen area where a lot of the kids played. In fact quite a lot of the toys were scattered around on the floor and were available to play with.
The bus, in the centre of this photo, was also a popular seat.
A display on dolls notes that the first attempts at making racially diverse baby dolls simply involved taking standard white babies and painting them black.
Another toy kitchen. These dolls are about six inches tall.
There were a lot of toy shops and kitchens, and I was struck by the detail and craftsmanship of the individual items.
Fish and squid.
The religious toy display. Who among us has never wanted to play at being nuns?
Don’t ask me why this boy has a transparent cage torso. The girl on the left seems to be wondering too.
The glorious Raj.
Shadow puppet theatres.
I remember watching Bonanza on TV as a child, but I never knew there was a toy line.
Back in my day we couldn’t afford individual baths, so we’d all pile into the tub together. With a fish.
There’s a lot more than this on display – it spreads over three floors – and it’s worth and hour or so of your time if you’re in the neighbourhood.