Toys at Heart inspired by Croatian traditional culture is a multimedia international cultural cooperation programme between the Croatian Heritage Foundation and its partners, the Croatian School of Boston (USA) and the Croatian Studies Foundation of Sydney (Australia), and Croatian language schools, Roman Catholic missions, organisations, associations and other relevant institutions abroad. It aims to encourage and develop creativity in children and youth while teaching about and promoting Croatian traditional culture, nurturing our language, creating bridges, networking and strengthening bonds with the Croatian homeland. The competition, which ran from March to September of 2018, saw the participation of over two hundred children and some forty mentors from Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Italy, the United States of America, Serbia, Sweden and Germany.
A multimedia exhibition opened on the 4th of December 2018 at the Croatian Heritage Foundation headquarters featured the winning submissions of the competition participants and works from schools in Croatia and those created by participants of the CHF’s Little School of Croatian Language and Culture. The exhibition included photographs of wooden toys kept at the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb and the works of students of design of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Architecture, creating a unique multimedia story that bridges the past, present and future and depicts the circle of creativity as it moves from tradition, through current interpretations as expressed through the creativity of children, to the interpretations of designers (exhibition leaflet). The exhibition opening was accompanied by a workshop on authentic Croatian toys and an In Honour of Wood workshop. The opening of the exhibition and the workshops were streamed in real time on the Internet.
Financial support for the Toys at Heart programme was provided by the City of Zagreb.
The best works submitted in Category 3 – Multimedia are available here and serve as a toolkit and motivation for all participants and other interested persons.
There are plans for future showings of this exhibition with an option to organise an accompanying programme (short film and workshops) in ethnic Croatian communities abroad, in schools and other institutions in Croatia, and future rounds of this programme. Besides showcasing the results of children’s creativity created in the frame of the Toys at Heart programme, this project also shows, in keeping with the modern spirit of mobility, how play and creativity can help develop speech and communication skills, teach about Croatian traditional culture and, in this way, nurture and preserve the Croatian ethnic identity outside the homeland. Along with this, the collaboration of Croatian schools, missions, associations and centres in the country and abroad in implementing this joint programme for children and youth will achieve networking and cooperation, and establish friendly and specialist contacts between the pupils, teachers, art teachers, project leaders and other participants from the homeland and abroad.