Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s

March 4, 2016 – May 31, 2016

Gumby. Barbie. Slinky. Hot Wheels. Atari.

Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s will showcase many of the nation’s most popular toys and demonstrate how these toys reflected three decades of dynamic changes in American life.

Featuring nearly 500 memorable childhood favorites, from Barbie and Gumby to Hot Wheels and Atari, Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s will present the personal perspectives of children, parents, child-rearing experts, inventors, and advertisers that help to place the toys in historical context.

Developed in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, this 8,000-square-foot exhibit will share the stories behind the iconic toys, including how they were developed and used to teach and entertain children.

As part of the exhibit, visitors will be able to enjoy hands-on examples of dozens of toys and numerous interactive areas throughout the exhibit.

Visitors can enjoy their favorite toys from the era, including everything from Erector sets and space-themed rockets to Troll dolls and early electronic games like Simon and Speak & Spell.

The History Center will also showcase artifacts and stories behind toys developed or produced in Western Pennsylvania, focusing on items from the Wolverine Toy Company and the Slinky.

The exhibit ends with a special vintage arcade and pinball gallery, courtesy of ReplayFX.

Virtual Tour
Quiz: Which classic toy are you?

We’re celebrating the new Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibit with a photo album dedicated to your favorite childhood toys! Take a minute to go back through your childhood photo albums and find a photo of you with your favorite toy to send to us. Check out the online photo gallery and submit your own photo here at the I Had That: Childhood Toys Photo Album.

Exhibit Must-Sees
  • Several Smithsonian artifacts, including a Mr. Potato Head from the 1950s and a Digi-Comp1 computer game from the 1960s;
  • Interactive living rooms from each era, including a 1960s living room modeled after a Barbie Dreamhouse;
  • A hands-on “garage” featuring plastic bowling pins, Nerf footballs, and hula hoops;
  • A play space filled with classic games, including “Rock’em Sock’em Robots,” “Barrel Of Monkeys,” and “Simon;”
  • A staircase where visitors can race Slinkys; and
  • Multimedia presentations and a toys trivia game.
Exhibit Events
History Center: In the News

Video Gallery

Exhibit Curator Talks

History Center: Exhibit Sponsors

The Heinz Endowments
Richard King Mellon Foundation
Bob and Joan Peirce
Playthings Etc. Family Toys & Hobbies
Replay FX
Desmone Architects

UPMC Health Plan


Exhibition Gallery