Trzepaki, Reksio, Atari
What and how did children play in communist Poland? How did the forms and possibilities of play change over time? Or are some of them still known and popular? You can look for answers to these questions at the Carpet hangers, Reksio, Atari, the new exhibition at the Nowa Huta Museum—not only watching and reading, but also touching, playing and experiencing.
The exhibition tells the story of children's games and entertainment during the communist era in the urban reality: toys and games (the popular and the dreamt-of), outdoor activities, games and physical exercise, as well as reading, cultural offerings for children or the development of technology over the decades (from TV sets and projectors to the first computers in the 1980s). Among the several hundred exhibits on display, visitors will find classics such as celluloid dolls, woodchip teddy bears, toy soldiers, toy cars, popular board games, roller skates, a footbag, a model train or an "Ania"-brand projector, but also real gems such as the authentic Miś Uszatek animation doll, authentic animation cels depicting, among others, Bolek and Lolek and Reksio, drawings by Bohdan Butenko (one of the most awarded Polish graphic artists and illustrators, author of comic books and books), original comic book panels, including ones from Kajko i Kokosz and Jonka, Jonek i Kleks. Of course, the eponymous carpet hanger—once a favorite hangout spot for neighbourhood kids—and an Atari computer will be on display too.
From the outset, work on the exhibition was guided by the assumption that everyone who lived through childhood during the communist era is an 'expert' here, and that the stories of individuals can vary greatly. Among the exhibits are many private memorabilia, in some cases accompanied by the owners' recollections. This resource is the result of the 'Share your childhood with us' campaign, which invited people to contribute to the exhibition and was carried out by the Museum from December 2021 to March 2022. In response, the Museum received messages from dozens of people, primarily residents of Kraków (mainly Nowa Huta). This gave the story a uniquely personal touch.
The exhibition has two visitor paths—for adults and for children. The children's path consists of interactive spaces and texts specially designed for children. The youngest visitors are guided through the path by narrators Zosia and Antoś, who have travelled back in time to the People's Republic of Poland and share their observations. The story of Zosia and Antoś is the result of cooperation with a group of pupils from classes IV and V of Primary School No. 52 in Krakow, who created the texts assigned to Zosia and Antoś and became their voice actors. They also identified the exhibits that were most interesting from their perspective and were highlighted in the arrangement.
An important element of the exhibition are the photographs, the selection of which left something to be desired, so the idea was born to show them in greater number and prominence. That is why the exhibition is accompanied by a publication—the album Na trzepaku (On the Carpet Hanger), containing photographs from the collections of the Museum of Krakow by Henryk Hermanowicz, Robert Kosieradzki and Józef Lewicki. These are photographs depicting children's games and entertainment in the People's Republic of Poland, taken in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in Krakow, including a significant proportion in Nowa Huta.