Youngsters and other digital natives might wonder what people did for fun before video games came on the scene. The Toledo Museum of Art answers that question with “Fun & Games: The Pursuit of Leisure,” a new exhibition on display through Sept. 21 in the Works on Paper Gallery.
Fun & Games has been created by the museum as a companion to “The Art of Video Games,” a popular Smithsonian American Art Museum touring exhibition that is spending the summer in Toledo. While “The Art of Video Games” traces the first 40 years of video gaming, “Fun & Games” focuses on just about everything else.
Drawn from the museum and other local collections, the works of art show a variety of leisure pursuits, including playing board games, hunting, racing, attending the theater, dancing, camping and strolling near the beach.
Some 90 paintings, photographs, ceramics, glass and works of art on paper by such noted artists as Honoré Daumier, James A. M. Whistler, George Wesley Bellows, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Lucas Cranach, Winslow Homer, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn are in the exhibition.
“Artists depict everyday life and free time is one aspect of life,” points out curator Ed Hill, special projects assistant in the Office of the Chief Curator. “Having leisure time isn’t a new thing, and some activities haven’t changed much. People in ancient times went to the Roman Colosseum; today, people go to stadiums for football, baseball and basketball games.”
The oldest object in the exhibition is the Calyx Krater: “Achilles and Ajax Playing a Game.” The earthenware bowl was used for mixing water and wine in Greece 2,500 years ago. More recent works include hand-blown glass by Swedish artist Edward Hald (1883–1980) featuring acid-etched and engraved decoration depicting fireworks.
Hill hopes visitors will be inspired to explore the entire museum. “There are many more works of art in the museum’s collection depicting what people do for fun. I hope they will make a point to visit the other galleries and look for them,” he said.
Admission is free. The museum is located at 2445 Monroe St. at Scottwood Avenue, Toledo, just west of the downtown business district and one block off I-75. For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or visit toledomuseum.org.