It all started with wood

Police station, Erzgebirge, around 1870.

Wood toys were first produced commercially in the sixteenth century, flourishing primarily in the heavily forested areas of the Alps, Thuringia and the Erzgebirge ("Ore Mountains"). All of these regions are represented by their characteristic products:

There are finely carved and painted animals, figurines, dolls and jumping jacks from Berchtesgaden, Oberammergau and the Grödner Valley. Thuringia's range of toys was especially diverse, using not just wood, but often also papier mâché for doll heads, herds of animals, stair-climbing toys and balancing figurines. Wood carving and turning was a cottage industry throughout the Erzgebirge region. The development of the hoop-turning technique there launched the series production of animals for popular Noah's Arks and toy farms.

All over the world, Nuremberg merchants marketed the toys from these areas as "Nuremberg Wares." But wood toys were also produced in Nuremberg itself. Items on display include turned and finely painted miniature dishes and construction sets for building toy versions of some of the city's best-known structures.

Artistic toys

A special display case shows the development of artistically designed wood toys, ranging from the first design contest in 1903 to current winners of the German Design Award for Wooden Toys.

Works by well-known artists like Lyonel Feininger, Emmy Zweybrück and Antonio Vitali document the high quality of wooden toy design in the twentieth century.