New Year’s Resolutions from the Artifacts

Some folks have reported visions of sugarplums recently—I’ve worked so closely with museum artifacts that I’m hearing their voices. Call me the Toy Whisperer or just plain loopy, but I listen when the museum’s toys and games talk about their New Year’s resolutions. The artifacts have some ambitious goals for 2012, but this doesn’t surprise me at all—they were busy last year, too.

Mobo Bronco has committed to proving he’s a big-boy horse by sleeping without his night light as often as he can. When his donor bravely left him in our care, she asked that we place him near a doorway and not leave him in the dark. It turned out to be a brilliant request, as folks passing by my office stopped to pet him and admire his walking mechanism. Now that Mobo is safe in collections storage with other friendly riding toys, he is gaining the confidence to face his fears. Just in case, though, there’s a Raggedy Andy night light at the ready to comfort him.

Alphie would like to spend more time at home with his friend Alphie II. In 2011 the senior bright-eyed robot toy spent six months on loan to the Elmhurst Historical Museum for an exhibit about Chicago-area toy inventors and companies. Reunited in Rochester, the pair plans to sing songs, compare buttons, and offer positive reinforcement for correct answers.

The Strong’s round Monopoly board hopes for a healthier, more beautiful 2012 following its recent makeover. Hand-painted on oilcloth by Charles Darrow to fit the shape of his dining room table, the game board landed in the collection of millionaire Malcolm Forbes. After arriving at The Strong last year, it received a nip and tuck (translation: conservation and cleaning) before appearing in the exhibit, Monopoly: An American Icon. Here’s hoping it can maintain its new look and confidence. Chief aesthetician Primp & Polish Barbie tells me she’s assembled a cadre of skilled on-call beauty consultants should Monopoly wish to take things to the next level.

As collections manager, I’m also in the business of reminding people that artifacts are delicate. Yes, New Year’s resolutions are certain to be abandoned. The artifacts don’t know that, though, so please be gentle with them.