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 The “Let’s Play! Toys, Games & Culture” exhibit will be on display until May 2 at the Lorenzo Culture Center on the Center Campus of Macomb Community College in Clinton Township. The exhibit features vintage toys, games and information panels.

The “Let’s Play! Toys, Games & Culture” exhibit will be on display until May 2 at the Lorenzo Culture Center on the Center Campus of Macomb Community College in Clinton Township. The exhibit features vintage toys, games and information panels.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Toy, game exhibit comes to MCC

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published February 28, 2020

 Barbie dolls from past decades are one of the many displays to check out at the exhibit.

Barbie dolls from past decades are one of the many displays to check out at the exhibit.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 More than 250 games and toys from the past are on display at the exhibit, which includes many vintage toys, interactive games and more.

More than 250 games and toys from the past are on display at the exhibit, which includes many vintage toys, interactive games and more.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Remember the carefree days of playing board games with your friends, dressing Barbie in the latest fashions or building a train set with your family?

You can relive all those treasured childhood memories during the “Let’s Play! Toys, Games & Culture” exhibit at the Lorenzo Cultural Center on the Center Campus of Macomb Community College.

The exhibit opened to the public Feb. 25 and runs until May 2. The Lorenzo Cultural Center is located at 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township.

Visitors can check out more than 250 vintage games, toys and artifacts on display, including a mid-20th century jack-in-the-box, a 1920 mahjong set, G.I. Joe, an Atari set from the ‘80s, Legos, Barbie dolls, board games and a train set.

Upon arrival to the exhibit, visitors are greeted by a 10-foot Rubik’s Cube made from foam, and will see a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game and a “Jurassic Park” pinball machine blinking in the distance. Both are on loan from Terry’s Terrace in Harrison Township.

Also set up are interactive floor games to play. Make sure to say “Hi” to the standup Buzz Lightyear cutout from “Toy Story” fame. The interactive toys and games on display are how people entertained themselves long before the onset of modern technological devices, such as iPads, smartphones and Xbox.

Toys and games are “something that appeals to everyone,” said William Wood, MCC’s director of cultural affairs and community outreach. “We wanted to have the physical presence of toys and games. We want to rekindle some of the wonder and magic we all felt as kids.

“We tried to find ways to educate, engage, enrich and entertain people. We also hope they find out something about the game they didn’t know before,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia over the things they played with when they were kids. It’s a yearning for that time in their lives.”

Some pieces on display are from private collections, while others are from local institutions, including the Henry Ford Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum. The showcase includes interesting histories about the various toys of the past. First State Bank is the exhibit’s sponsor. Private donors also support the exhibit financially.

“Some of it is underwritten by the college as well,” Wood said.

The oldest toy in the collection dates back to the mid-1800s.

“That’s when commercial toys started coming about,” said Wood, who was “a pinball guy” and also “spent a lot of quarters on Galaga.”

“The most unusual, in my opinion, is the Edison doll we have,” he said. “Each doll had its own unique recording in different voices.”

According to Lois Jackman, MCC’s manager of cultural programming, exhibits and grants, the Edison dolls were not commercially successful. For starters, the doll makers had not figured out a way to duplicate the recordings of them talking.

“The recordings are really crackly and a little creepy,” Jackman said. “The women who did the recordings had to shout into the microphone.”

Along with the displays, officials have scheduled a number of presentations at the cultural center. For instance, “Little Armies: A History of Toy Soldiers and Miniature Civilian Figures” will be held at 1 p.m. March 12; “Yo-Yo Tricks” with the founders of Yoyotricks.com will be on hand at 11 a.m. March 21; and “Plastics and Progress: Baby Boom Toys” is scheduled for 1 p.m. April 17.

Another highlight will be the “Cube Day Macomb” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 4. The event is a competition presented in partnership with the World Cube Association and CubingUSA. More than 100 competitors are expected to compete in multiple events. Anyone interested in joining them can register at worldcubeassociation.org.

“I think it’s very fun and light and playful, which is what we wanted,” Jackman said of the exhibit. “There’s a lot of nostalgia. I’ve had a lot of people that don’t realize the age of the games.”

She’s watched people look at the display cases and reminisce with comments like “I had that.” For some, the collection “reminds them of when their kids were small,” Wood said.

Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Members of the public, school groups, special needs programs and senior centers are all welcome.

All events are free and open to the public, but preregistration is required by visiting LorenzoCulturalCenter.com. A complete list of presentations also can be found at the website. For more information call (586) 445-7348.

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