We bet Santa would love to get his hands on these toys. A precious black-and-gold train made from bull horns. Colorfully dressed Frida Kahlo dolls with dark furrowed eyebrows. Airplanes fashioned from Coke cans.
More than 2,000 beautiful hand-crafted toys from across Mexico – each a one-of-a-kind treasure – are displayed at the Toy Museum, San Miguel de Allende (“Museo La Esquina”).
Earlier this year, we got our museum fix in the Mexican colonial cities of San Miguel and neighboring Guanajuato (a one-hour bus ride apart). We saw human mummies at the macabre Mummy Museum and cool art at the Diego Rivera Museum in Guanajuato.
In San Miguel, ceremonial ethnic Mexican masks grabbed our attention at the Other Face of Mexico Museum – as did the whimsical toys at this museum.
Toy Museum, San Miguel de Allende!
Surprisingly large, the light-filled Toy Museum has four rooms, housed within a renovated old casona sporting exposed stone and skylights.
The toys are made from all sorts of materials – vegetable fibers, metal, papier mache, ceramic, cloth and wood.
One room contains a collection of toys representing public transport.
There are little metal boats which, in days gone by, could be powered by placing a birthday candle at the back to make them move while floating on water. A large train on a track is made from clay (an art form not practised anymore today).
Another room is one giant doll house with dolls galore. Some wear rustic hand-woven dresses.
Moving carousels, ferris wheels and carnival rides are found in the room devoted to toys displaying objects seen at a traditional Mexican fair.
Quite understandably, you can’t touch the toys. The museum could therefore be frustrating for small children. The other visitors we saw were adults, getting in touch with their inner child (like us) just by looking.
Annual folk toy contest
Expect the museum’s collection to grow.
The Toy Museum now organizes an annual National Folk Toy Contest. Toy makers from 26 Mexican states competed in the last contest – their innovative creations are also showcased here.
Want to see even more toys?
There’s another toy museum in Mexico City – the Antique Toy Museum of Mexico (“Museo Juguete Antiguo”). Created by a Mexican of Japanese descent, it contains more than 1 million pieces, including miniature toys the size of a pinhead – some 40,000 classic toys are on display.