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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Visit the Toy Museum

For MT
A small room in the former Palace of Pioneers at Vorobyovy Gory is bursting with toys -- Sergei Romanov's collection. Yet only a fraction of his 4,500 toys is displayed on shelves here, organized by decade, provenance and material.

Chapayev in a machine-gun cart, pioneers, tin soldiers, partisans, cosmonauts, policemen, Cheburashka, Gena and other Soviet cartoon characters -- all are gazing from the glass cabinets.

Although the bulk of the collection is toys made at Soviet factories, pre-Revolutionary porcelain dolls and rocking horses are also included, and so is Mickey Mouse. The oldest exhibit is from the 1840s. Silent witnesses to the accomplishments and failings of the world's largest country, the toys trace Russia's cultural and industrial history with childhood sentimentality.

Romanov will tell you about the differences between toys from Moscow and St. Petersburg factories, show you Misha the Olympic Bear incarnated in every imaginable material, and point to the strangest item of all -- the Siamese twin baby doll from 1930s Germany. Raggedy Ann is another international representative. "She is so weird and terrible, but it's good to have her here," he said.

Romanov acquired most of the toys, others were donated to the museum by friends and strangers alike. There is a toy horse that belonged to the late director Rolan Bykov, and actress Faina Ranevskaya's teddy bear. Romanov said some toy donors come and visit their old childhood friends. The collector can often be seen repairing and restoring toys that arrive to the museum in battered condition.

The museum also has many photographs of children posing with their favorite toys. After your visit, you may check out a children's chess tournament on the first floor, or the aluminum-fork cafeteria that serves 15 ruble pea soup and classic milkshakes.

Sergei Romanov's collection at the Moscow Palace of Youth Creativity, 2nd floor, 17 Ul. Kosygina, 939-8495, M. Universitet.
Open Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free.