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Children's Fun and Games in Communist Poland

Exhibition curator
Agata Klimek-Zdeb

With what and how did children play in communist Poland? How have the forms and possibilities of having fun changed over time? Maybe some of them are still known and popular?

We invite you to look for the answers to these questions in the exhibition at the Museum of Nowa Huta. Here you can not only watch and read but also touch, play and experience.

The exhibition tells the story of children's games and pastimes during the communist period in urban reality: both toys and games (the popular and the dreamed-of ones), outdoor activities, movement games and activities, as well as reading, cultural events for children or the development of technology over the decades (from TV sets and projectors to the first computers in the 1980s).

Among the several hundred exhibits on show, one can find classics such as celluloid dolls, teddy bears, toy soldiers, toy vehicles, popular board games, roller skates, a "Zośka" footbag, an electric train or an "Ania" projector, but also real gems, such as an authentic film doll of Teddy Bear Uszatek, original animation films depicting, among others, Bolek and Lolek and Reksio, illustrations by Bohdan Butenko (one of the most awarded Polish graphic artists and illustrators, author of comic books and books), original comic book panels, for example from the "Kajko i Kokosz" and "Jonka, Jonek i Kleks" series. Of course, there is also a carpet hanger (the original one from the period!) and an Atari computer.

From the outset, work on the exhibition was guided by the assumption that everyone who experienced childhood during the communist period is an "expert" here and that the stories of individuals can differ a lot. Among the exhibits are many private memorabilia, in some cases accompanied by the owners' recollections. This resource is the result of the "Share your childhood with us" campaign, which invited people to co-create the exhibition and was carried out by the Museum from December 2021 to March 2022. In response, we received messages from dozens of people, mainly residents of Kraków (especially from Nowa Huta). This gave our (collective) story a uniquely personal perspective.

The exhibition has two visitor routes - one for adults and one for children. The children's route consists of interactive spaces and texts addressed specifically to children. The youngest visitors are guided along the route by narrators Zosia and Antoś, who have travelled back in time to communist Poland and share their insights. The story by Zosia and Antoś is the result of a wonderful collaboration with a group of pupils in classes IV and V of Primary School No. 52 in Krakow, who created the texts assigned to Zosia and Antoś and became their readers. They also identified the exhibits that were most interesting from their perspective, and these were highlighted by special arrangement.

Photographs are an important part of the exhibition, and the selection of them made people want to see more of them; thus, the idea of showing them in greater numbers and in the foreground was born. This is why the exhibition is accompanied by the publication - album Na trzepaku [On the carpet hanger] containing photographs from the Krakow Museum's collection by Henryk Hermanowicz, Robert Kosieradzki and Józef Lewicki. These photographs depict children's games and entertainment in the People's Republic of Poland, taken in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Kraków, including a significant proportion in Nowa Huta.

Come and visit the exhibition with your family, and take part in the events surrounding the exhibition!

The exhibition is translated into English and Ukrainian.
Exhibition curator
Agata Klimek-Zdeb

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