Nobody can deny that “Century of the Child: Growing By Design 1900-2000,” at the Museum of Modern Art, is a great looking show. The ambience in the galleries is cool and bright, with scores of children’s books, toys, furnishings, and baubles, many by the legendary movers and shakers of twentieth-century art and design, boldly arranged in big, white rooms. The darker themes explored here—including the toll that war and poverty have taken on the lives of children—do little to disrupt the general sense that museumgoers are being invited to have a jolly good time.
If Walter Benjamin were alive today, would he be writing a little essay about “Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen,” the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art? It is easy to imagine Benjamin crafting a few intricate, elegant pages, combining a collector’s ardent admiration, an intellectual’s theoretical flights, and a novelist’s sensitivity to the pop-chic ambience at MoMA.