Toys and games exhibition inspired by 1940s painting

24 March 2016

An exhibition featuring toys and games from the 1940s, and every decade since will open tomorrow (Friday 25 March) at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow.

The exhibition was inspired by the painting 'Marjory and Anne', by Alexander Christie. The portrait shows local sisters Marjory (8) and Anne (4) Gerrie, playing with their toys in 1943, at home at 2 Queens Gardens, Aberdeen in 1943. The portrait was commissioned by their father. In 1970 the sisters Mrs Anne Donald and Mrs Marjory Kelly (both nee Gerrie) gifted the painting to Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The painting evokes the universal experience of play with the scene recreated for each subsequent decade using toys and games from Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums collection, and a selection of items on loan from members of the public.

With its strong 1940s visual, the painting provided the impetus through which to explore the social and cultural contexts of toys and games throughout the decades. The scene, with toys strewn throughout the living room and children sitting playing, is one which we are still familiar with today, reflecting the enduring nature of play as a shared, universal experience.

Toys and Games is the fourth in a series of exhibitions to be held in the maritime museum while Aberdeen Art Gallery is closed as part of a £30million redevelopment project. 'Inspiring Art and Music' will see Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Cowdray Hall transformed into a world-class cultural centre when it reopens in winter 2017.

The exhibition has been curated by two members of Aberdeen Art Gallery staff - Andrew Woodside, museums supervisor and Lynne Clark, museums support officer as part of secondment opportunity while the art gallery is closed.

Aberdeen City Council's Deputy Leader, Councillor Marie Boulton said: "It is great that we are able to still see artwork from Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections while the gallery is closed, for its multi-million-pound redevelopment.

"While the type of toys and games children play with varies through the decades, play is a universal experience and something which we have all enjoyed, which is why this is such a great exhibition for all the family to enjoy."

Gillian Kelly, daughter of Marjory Gerrie, said: "It's fabulous to see the portrait on display as part of the exhibition. I can remember the painting in the playroom of my grandparents' house. My mother Marjory studied at Gray's School of Art and went on to study at St Martin's School of Art in London before returning to Aberdeen to become an art teacher. She was also an accomplished painter."

Lynne Clark, museum support officer, Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums, said: "This secondment has been a wonderful opportunity for me. My undergrad and post-graduate degrees are both in history so I have a personal interest which I was keen to develop further while learning more about the museums sector. Toys and games are also a unique way of viewing the past through the prism of play and fun, and they help us to learn more about the experience of children, who leave less of a written record than adults."

Andrew Woodside, museums supervisor, Aberdeen Art Galleries & Museums, added: "This was a great opportunity for me. I liked working with the collection and the fact that it was toys and games made it even better."

The exhibition will run until Saturday 14 January 2017.

To learn more about Inspiring Art and Music - Aberdeen Art Gallery's redevelopment project visit