THE NEW YORK TIMES, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11,
MUSEUM FOUNDER VIEWS TOYS HERE
Scottish Antiquarian Seeks
Displays on Child Life
By GRACE GLUECK
By Dick Darcey, Staff Photographer
Patrick Murray is setting the museum world on
The founder and
director of the world's only Museum of Childhood, established seven years
ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, for nostalgic adults, paused briefly in New York
recently on his first visit to the United States. Almost before you could
say Winnie-the-Pooh-and-Piglet, he had popped into F.A.O. Schwarz's, sized
up two local museums, talked with a reporter and was off to address a
convention of the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America at Gettysburg, Pa.
"The Museum's doing fantastically well" said Patrick
Murray, F.S.A. Scot., a genial,teddy-bear-shaped man of 56 with the
animation of a super-charged battery toy. "Our attendance this year will hit
about 40,000, with visitors from all over the world."
Mr. Murray (the F.S.A. Scot. stands for Fellow,
Scottish Society of Antiquarians), a bachelor who favors children mainly
"when they're bathed and en route to bed." says he casually hatched the
notion of a museum about children — not for them" as a working member of
Edinburgh Town Council in 1957 (he's now an honorary one).
The council gave him two "dreary" rooms in a restored
18th-century mansion on High Street, owned by the city.
More Than 25,000Items
"We had six battered exhibition cases and
almost no storage space," Mr. Murray recalled. "For several months, nothing
came in that I hadn't found, stolen or bought myself."
But by the end of the second year, the museum had
proved such a hit that the council bought a four-story building for it just
down the street. "That one's already crammed," said Mr. Murray. "We now get
an average of about 80 to 100 gifts a week. We can only put about half of
our more than 25,000 exhibits on display."
Neatly arranged in such categories as Wooden Toys;
Christmas Bits and Pieces; Sweets, Biscuits and Chocolate Boxes; Examples of
Stitchwork and Sewing, the exhibits range the bygone world of British
childhood from infancy to age 12. Only the toy section, which forms the
largest group, is international.
The oldest item is an Egyptian grave doll, 4000 B.C.,
described by Mr. Murray as "a wicked little thing." The Museum also has its
contemporary counterpart, a "Miss Revlon" dress-up doll of 1957, donated by
a New York couple.
An 18-Room Doll House
But amid the welter of 19th-century and early
20th-century toy weapons, paper dolls, seaweed pictures and nursery
medicines that jam the museum's four floors, the prize is an 18-room doll
house, which Mr. Murray calls "the finest ever made." It is the life work of
a Hampshire spinster, who parted with it on her death bed. and it is 8 feet
long, 5 feet high and boasts more than 2,000 pieces of scaled furniture.
Miniscule mice romp on the kitchen floor and chips of real coal fill the
Mr. Murray, who will search for acquisitions was elated
by a find at Schwarz' Antique Toy Department — a cast iron hook-and-ladder
fire truck from the nineteen-twenties. "A typical American toy," he said.
"No one else used that heavy cast iron."
He tends to favor American toys over European. "They're
far more interesting and vivid. For example, this was the only country that
ever produced a first-class toy horse."
"But now," he said , "you people had better puff up
your socks. Others are gaining on you. The British, for example, are making
really superb miniatures, though you still can't beat American plastic
IN AN EDINBURGH
This is scene in the kitchen of 18-room doll's
house in Museum of Childhood. Tiny mice and a bird in a cage are among