Published : Monday, August 5, 2019 | 4:21 PM
This summer Pasadena Museum of History’s exhibition galleries are filled with a dizzying array of carousel horses and exotic creatures, dozens of ride-on horses/animals that rock, bounce, and/or roll, and a wide variety of smaller animals and carousel-themed toys. They are delightful to look at; even better, Giddy Up: Children Take the Reins is a uniquely “touchable” exhibition.
Pet the horses, shake paws with a lion, or pose nose to nose with a giraffe! Visitors can even climb upon a double-seat polar bear from a 1920s-era English carousel for a special keepsake photo. “This is such an appealing exhibition for museum-goers of all ages that we have decided to extend its run through Sunday, October 13,” notes PMH Executive Director Jeannette O’Malley. “This will make it available to this fall’s ArtNight Pasadena participants, many of whom are multi-generational families.”
Pasadena Museum of History will be one of a number of cultural institutions that will be open free of charge on Friday, October 11, 6:00 – 10:00 pm for Pasadena ArtNight. In addition to the exhibition, PMH will be offering live musical performances throughout the evening and free shuttles will transport visitors from the various venues. Complete details will be posted on the PMH and ArtNight websites closer to the date.
About Giddy Up: Children Take the Reins
Giddy Up is the Museum’s second exhibition devoted solely to items from curator Lourinda Bray’s collection. Her Running Horse Studio in Irwindale, CA houses her nearly unimaginable menagerie, along with carousel art, miniatures, toys, and more in 7,000 square feet of merry-go-round memorabilia. Here she carefully restores figures for other collectors and for operational carousels, as well as pieces in her own collection, which spans the history of carousels from the mid-19th century to modern day, with many examples from the “Golden Age of Carousels,” 1861-1920.
Unique items on display in the exhibit include:
Smaller Scaled Carousel Figures, historically found on full-sized carousels, these slightly less towering animals allowed youngsters to “take the reins” and enjoy an exhilarating ride on their favorite horse or fanciful creature while adults could keep a watchful eye by taking a seat in an adjacent decorated chariot. In addition, very small children might accompany an adult in a chariot providing an opportunity for them to enjoy the carousel ride together. Older children could enjoy the freedom of gliding along while seated in a carriage drawn by two ponies while overlooking the security provided by a seat belt. In Mexico, all of the figures on a carousel were traditionally small in scale, suggesting that they were intended for exclusive use by children, not adults.
The Wonder Horse, a spring rocking horse, was a favorite childhood toy that emerged from the success of the cowboy Westerns of the late 1920s into the 1950s. Actor Tom Mix’s horse Tony was the first to be given equal billing with his human co-star and was the first to bear the name “The Wonder Horse.” As these Westerns had great appeal to children, toys, clothing, and other accessories were marketed, many of them featuring their favorite cowboys’ Wonder Horses. Tony, Trigger, Champion, Rocky Lane’s Black Jack, and the Lone Ranger’s Silver were some of the Wonder Horses of cinema that were featured in Western comic books and children’s toys.
The Shoo Fly is a child’s rocker with a seat built between two flat sides painted and cut in the shape of a whimsical figure, including horses, ducks, and swans. This small rocker was particularly suited to young children who may have found it difficult to balance on the full-size rocking horse.
Giddy Up: Children Take the Reins is on view from 12:00-5:00 pm Wednesdays-Sundays through October 13, 2019 unless otherwise noted on the Museum’s online calendar (pasadenahistory.org). Admission is $9 General; $8 Students & Seniors; Free to PMH members & children under 12. Pasadena Museum of History is located at 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena, free parking in the Museum lot and on Walnut St.