Opened in 2006 and showing off over 20,000 playthings from the early 20th century, Mexico’s Museo del Juguete Antiguo México (Old Toy Museum of Mexico) gives curious visitors an alternate history of the country’s culture, told exclusively through its toys.
Spanning four floors, the extensive toy collection of architect Roberto Shimizu Kinoshita (who started collecting at age 10) fills a bursting building in Colonia Doctores in Mexico City. The collection runs from the 19th century to the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on toys popular in Mexico, but there is plenty here that non-Mexican toy fans can appreciate.
Anyone looking for a typical museum with ordered cases and rows of labeled objects may be in for a shock at Kinoshita’s collection. His is more of an explosive celebration of toys and childhood than a scholarly exercise in trinket history. Every last inch of the space is packed with toys, often in whimsical display cases built either by the founder himself or local craftsman. A lot of the cases are made from salvaged items, like large industrial light fixtures. There’s occasionally a theme to various corners, but for the most part it’s simply floor after floor of delightful chaos. One of the highlights is a giant, two-story-tall head (of questionable racial appropriateness) with two maracas, rescued from a defunct nightclub, that fills the inner atrium.
The first floor houses a gift shop that is only somewhat more organized than the museum. They sell vintage toys to support the museum, also giving visitors an opportunity to start a collection of their own.
A recent addition to the museum is the creation of a street art “speakeasy” on the rooftop. It is called a speakeasy due to the fact that it is not open unless a special request is made at the front desk for access. It not only affords visitors an opportunity to view some paintings by a mix of very talented Mexican and international artists, but includes a bonus rooftop view of the surrounding neighborhood.
Know Before You Go
A little out of the way, but not difficult to find. Look for the building with the huge mural on the side. There's an affiliated toy store on the first floor, with a separate door upstairs for the museum.