|Museum of Bringuedo|
Toys are fairly central to most childhoods, whether a simple piece of wood, a rag doll or some sophisticated western what not. No matter what your childhood economic circumstances, we treasure those moments of pure imagination, when we could create our own world and people it accordingly. Years ago I had visited a Money Box Museum in Amsterdam, all very Dutch, but still I was surprised to find a Toy Museum in Sintra, Portugal, so people establish museums for all sorts of things.
The Museum of Bringuedo in the centre of Sintra, possesses a very fine collection of some 40,000 toys ranging from 1930’s Hornby train sets, lead soldiers, dolls, and every other kind of toy imaginable. Collections of any sort must reflect to a great extent the interests of the collector, and when I cast back into my own memory and recall the World War II battles I played out under the dining table, because an uncle of mine had lent me his collection of 1930’s German lead soldiers.
The owner and founder of this museum turned out to be an elderly gentleman, now unfortunately confined to a wheelchair due to a recent stroke. This however, did not stop him from doing the rounds of “his museum”. Luckily he was very talkative and only too anxious to talk about his passion. He had been collecting all his life, and had set up a repair and restoration workshop in the museum where children of all ages could bring their treasures for renewal. Many toys are discarded, and he felt it was his duty to give them new life. Everything in this world has memory that has witnessed different time frames. I am sure if this establishment had been around during Hans Christian Andersen stay in Sintra, he would have felt a great affinity. The owner had built a special playroom with puppets and story tellers, so each child could relive their own make-believe worlds.
Apart from this great collection of lead soldiers from every corner of the globe, he had acquired a few ancient bronze toys from Syria some 3000 years old. There were also a few carved marble toys, also from the Middle East. I believe simple moulded clay toy animals have been found in Anatolia dated 6000BC. It is a great pity that as adults, we tend to forget the joys of childhood when time is always the present. When anything is possible, and we endow our toys with a life of their own, and the only restriction is imagination. I often wonder whether in this contemporary world of were children are fed a diet of preprogramed toys, and technological wonders whether children are the real losers in their inability to entertain themselves, were everything is in the fast lane, and there is no time to think and dream.