The Nuremberg Spielzeugmuseum is considered be among the best Toy Museums in the world. This makes sense, since Nuremberg has been a hub of toy making since the Middle Ages. HUNDREDS of toy makers had their workshops along the cobblestoned streets and ways. Not only that, Nuremberg is the home of the first mass produced toys… and the first Tin Soldiers. And today (when Covid-19 isn’t wrecking havoc on everyone’s schedule) Nuremberg home to the largest International Toy and Game fair in the world. Nuremberg loves TOYS. Now, I too love toys, and I love museums, so when I was on my Christmas Market tour last year, I couldn’t resist visiting the Nuremberg Toy Museum. Are you kidding? A whole building full of TOYS! Just try to stop me!
In the Lobby
Nuremberg Toy Museum
Visiting the Nuremberg Toy Museum takes you on a trip through time with a little lesson in toy history. (You know, I think if history teachers included lessons that included toys and puppet shows, more people would get excited about it). As you go up the stairs (or elevator) you move forward in time. (This means, if you want to skip to the Playmos, head upstairs!)
In the Beginning there was Wood
You’ll find wooden toys on the ground floor. Simple houses and charming wooden figures made by a Reifendreher (like the ones I saw on my visit to Seiffen).
Isn’t it great that there is a toy of the toymaker!
Tin Soldiers and Doll Houses
Then I went up to the first floor, and got lost in the doll houses. Growing up, I was never a girly-girl… but I had a doll house that my Opa made for me, and I LOVED IT. (It still exists in my mother’s attic, waiting for the next generation). But these! The amount of detail… furniture, hand painted dishes, even an old Kachelofen (Tile Stove for heating). And these works of art were meant to be played with!
A Kachelofen! and Velvet covered Chairs!
The laundry drying in the attic
All the TINY things!
This same floor was home to early tin toys. Notably Tin Soldiers and a large collection of Lehmann Tin toys.
Johann Gottfried Hilpert and his brother set up a workshop to build and paint the first mass produced tin soldiers in 1760. Their workshop in Nuremberg created hundreds of soldiers and other figures that were each hand painted. Unlike later Tin Soldiers (like the one in the Hans Christian Anderson story) these were flat, 2 dimensional with a “foot”.
The Lehmann toy company was founded in Brandenburg in 1881, and developed a reputation for making colorful and detailed tin toys. These were a hit for a few reasons 1. They were colorful 2. They were lighter than iron toys (which meant that it did less damage when a child banged into something… like his little brother’s head) 3. They were cheaper than iron toys (a plus for parents). By the 1920s there were hundreds of designs… from animals to cars to carousels.
One “toy” that took me completely by surprise was the Altar Playset. Apparently these religious toys were made for little boys who had their heart set on joining the church.
There were a few castle sets in the museum with loads of details. Almost like you could shrink yourself down and move in.
The World of Technology
On the second floor (third floor in the US) you find Construction sets and Wind up toys made from metal. Toys that move. Erector type sets designed to let little boys (and their precocious sisters) spend hours building Ferris Wheels and bridges.
Model trains And a GIANT train set. (Not as cool as the trains in Hamburg’s Miniature Wonderland, but still quite good)
Wind up cars And FLYING Cars!
Riding toys like cars and horses
Look! Winnie the Pooh can drive a car!
And simple games, like Das Flohspiel (Tiddlywinks)
Toys Since 1945
I admit, the top floor was my favorite. Here is where you find all of the toys created since 1945. The toys are grouped by type (lots of Playmobil and Legos) but also by decade.
These were bigger dolls… and bigger play sets
I know I had that doll!… and look! an early Mickey Mous
For all the Karl May fans
I still love my Playmos today
A PLAYMO TOWER!
Monchhichi! Love Monkeys!
And of course… LEGO
Wandering this floor is like walking through childhood. I suddenly remembered so many toys that may have been forgotten along the way. I thought about the movie Toy Story, and how the toys didn’t want to be part of a static museum… but maybe the other side of it is that the toys in museums take us back to our childhood? These toys remind us of what made us so happy when we were young. And that seems like a good thing too.
Can You PLAY with the Toys?
This IS a Toy Museum, so it is constructed with children in mind. While the kids (and even adult people like me) would love to play with all the toys, you can’t touch the exhibits (Oh! and apparently pressing your nose against the glass is apparently a no-no as well). HOWEVER there is a play area on the top floor with toys, games and even books, where kids (and their grown ups) can play to their heart’s delight. I saw people playing (even without children). The comfortable room with its tables and chairs, as well as soft spaces, makes a nice place to slow down and just enjoy yourself… especially on a day filled with sightseeing (so, if you happen to be touring Nuremberg with children, put this space on your list with extra time). There’s even a story-book Jukebox!
Where is the Nuremberg Toy Museum?
The Spielzeugmuseum is on Karlstraße, just down the hill from the Dürer Museum, and on a roundabout path from the Haubtmarkt to the Schloß, so it’s a perfect half-way place on your way up the side of the hill. Normally it’s open daily (except Mondays). It’s fairly inexpensive to visit (and you can even buy a multi-day pass).
Next time you are in Nuremberg, take the time for a trip down memory lane at the Spielzeugmuseum You will love it.