© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sioux City Museum Exhibit Shows How Toys Have Evolved

A new museum exhibit in Sioux City shows how popular Christmas toys have changed from the 1900s to the present. 
In the same room, but more than a century apart: a wind-up monkey from 1910 and a 2017 LEGO Star Wars ship. Most of the toys featured on display at the Sioux City Public Museum were made from 1900 to the 1980s and belong to local radio personality Larry Fuller.

Matt Anderson, the curator of history at the museum, says toys say a lot about the time period they’re from.

“A good amount of Larry’s collection is from the 1940s. During World War II, for instance, metal wasn’t available for constructing toy cap guns or even for toy boats, so he has all wood examples that kids would’ve gotten during the war,” Anderson said.

Anderson says G.I. Joe-themed toys that were popular after the war show the country’s appreciation for the military.

Though the toys themselves have changed over the decades, they’ve always been an important part of Christmas, Anderson said.

“Back to the 1920s, kids were hoping for Christmas gifts if they were lucky enough to get some,” he said. “We have some toys that maybe a child got even back as far as 1900 or so. It gives you an idea of the kinds of things that might’ve been given as presents at that time.”

Other toys featured include a porcelain doll from the early 1900s, a steel toy telephone from the 1940s and 50s and a wooden Mother Goose toy from the 1960s.

“Christmas Toys Through The Decades” runs through March 2019.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.