Close up of TOYS wall featuring 500 plus toy figures


Widely popular, visitors took a trip down memory lane of toys from their childhood, while having opportunities for play within the space.

Parents play with young kids in Toys exhibit
1980s Arcade in TOYS exhibit

TOYS! was an interactive, multi-generation exhibition of toys and games to rekindle childhood memories and spark the creation of new ones.

Baby Boomers loved Paper Dolls, Erector Sets, and Mr. Potato Head, Gen Xers preferred Holly Hobbie and Hot Wheels, and Millennials have never known a world without Super Mario or My Little Pony. Some toys, like Barbie and G.I. Joe, have adapted to appeal to different generations and remain popular today. Toys and games have changed over time, but the desire to imagine, compete, and create has not.

Visitors imagined, competed and created, while going on a journey of toys through generations. The exhibit included a 1980s style arcade!

The exhibit, designed and curated by the GRPM staff, featured toys and games from the Museum’s Collections and on loan from community members. 

Through the design process of the exhibition, the Museum worked with several experts from the community making sure the design was as inclusive as possible so everyone visiting could enjoy it. The exhibition was presented in English and Spanish, and had elements of Braille.

TOYS! was open October 2018 through August 16, 2020. 

Thanks to the many donors, lenders, collaborators and friends of the GRPM who shared their toys and ideas with us. We couldn’t have created this exhibit without you:

Arcade Market, Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Alkema, Jr., Susan Bair, Hannah Barker, Kristin Barrington, Peter Berghoef, Gladys Biazan, Alice Bickley, Gina Bivins, Emily Brieve, Paul Brown, Vicki and Larry Burghdoff, Lara Carling, Lee Carlson, Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Bryant Chandler, Katherine Chase, Timothy J. Chester, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Alanna Christy, Lora B. Cleary, Comprehensive Therapy Center, Corporate Color, Aimee DeHollander, Dave Dennett, D. J. DePree, Eileen DeVries, Sarah Dilley, Thomas Dilley, Jim Engelking, Eudora Estabrook, Jake Evers, FASTSIGNS, John Foerch, Alan Forist, Alex, Sara and Sophia Forist, Melissa Fortino, Organized by Melissa, Andrew Fraser, Abigail Gautreau, William J. Glasgow, Grand Rapids Griffins, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Great Start to Quality, Brian Gritter, Chris Hanks, Molly Hanson, Andrew Harwood, Brian Hauenstein, Craig Anne Heflinger, Herman Miller Incorporated, Ruth Herrick Highscope Educational Research Foundation, Torin Hodgman, Annette Hollister-Papp, Arnold Hooton, Stevie Hornyak, Emily Hromi, Sarah Humes, Inclusive Performance Strategies, Kit Jackson, Marcia Jagger, Marilyn Jenkins, Kathleen L. Johnston-Calati, Douglas J. Karel, Mary Jane Keeler, Chris Kemler, Rebecca Kenny, Katherine and Robert Kimball, Phyllis Kramer, Dr. Mira Krishnan, Lakeshore Museum Center, Falon Large, Kelsey Laymon, Catherine Leiber, Virginia Lettinga, Edward Lowe, Angelique McGuire, Meijer, Andrea Melvin, Marilyn and Meredith Merdzinski, Elizabeth A.R. Miron, Marilyn Monte, MOTU Joe, Sarah Murphree, Mike Myers, Lisa and Steve Nawrocki, Carin Obits, Michelle Ogren, Mrs. Arthur Ormsbee, Rick Overway, Kevin, Andrew and Ashleigh Palmiter, Ward A. Paul and Charles G. Schoenknecht, Maria Petlichkoff, Steve Petros, Playmonster, Mike Posthumus, Tim, Emme and Isabel Priest, Terry Priest, Tom Priest, Matt Priest, Mark Pulte, Pyramid Scheme, Helen M. Ranta, Mrs. Edith Richards, Dale and Sonja Robertson, Amanda Roozeboom, Karen Rowland, Rider’s Hobby Shop, Alicia Ryke, General John H. Schouten, Cyanne, Cora, and Rob Schuitema, Becke, Brad, Aden and Elijah Shiel, Lynn Marie Skrobot, B. D. Slack, Spaces to Experiences, Mrs. Stuart L. Spindler, Breanna Stayskal, Dr. Phil Stegink, Raymond Stoutjesdyk, Stow and Davis Furniture Company, James A. Straub, Andy Strong, Linda Sweigart, Kelly Tasma, Dave Taylor, Monica Taylor, Jennifer Teaker, Paris Tennenhouse, Georgia Thompson, Jordan Tomaszewski, Mike Traxler,  Mark and Sharon Van Kuik, Reuben, Melissa, Neal and Silas VanTil, Howard VanTill, Vidiots, Mary Voss, Holly Waldenmeyer, John Walsh, Gloria Warren, Jack Wheeler, Karen Wilburn, Izaak and Mason Williams, Willoughby Associates, Katherine Wills, Mike Willyard, Mary Wisnewski, Jim Wisnewski and Pat Zimmer.

Sponsored By:




David and Carol Van Andel Family Foundation logo

David & Amy Leonard