The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Big Ben and the White House will all be under one roof this autumn at the V&A Museum of Childhood
. The exhibition Cut it, Fold it, Build it with Paper will bring together an extensive collection of paper models and show them together for the first time.
The exhibition will demonstrate how popular collecting and making paper models has been for centuries, with examples dating from the 1880s on display.
As well as beautifully designed and intrinsically detailed paper models created specifically for adults there will be simpler models produced for children, including much loved marketing promotions from the back of cereal packs.
Collectors prefer to keep their models flat and pristine but model makers revel in the build. Hours of painstaking work result in amazing artworks. The exhibition will show examples of original flat artwork alongside 3D miniature buildings.
A model scene put together for the exhibition will illustrate how schools, shops, stations and windmills, as well as iconic landmarks were very popular to collect and make. Visitors will be able to make their own paper models during family workshops and these will be added to a giant 3D cityscape based in and around the East End of London.
A history of paper models
Simple paper cut-outs have existed since the invention of printing in the 15th century. Architectural paper models came slightly later with the earliest being produced in Japan in the 16th century, while they arrived in Europe in the 18th century. The development of colour lithography in the early 19th century led to publishers mass-producing all kinds of inexpensive paper products. Architectural models soon proved to be among the most popular with companies such as Pellerin, Schreiber, Micromodels and Milton Bradley in Europe and America producing some of the most collectible versions. A shortage of other materials during the Second World War led to a surge in the popularity of paper models. A revival of interest in the late 1970s saw serious complex models for adults being produced, many in Eastern Europe.
This exhibition is the first public showing of the Robert Freidus Collection of Architectural Paper Models, kindly lent by the American Friends of the V&A.
Robert Freidus was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941. Freidus has been collecting paper models since the mid 1980s and has so far amassed over 20,000 examples. They come from over 40 countries and include examples from all the major publishers of the last 150 years. The breadth of his collection is unique. It includes everything from simple slot-together examples to complicated buildings produced in book form that take many hours to complete. Every type of model is represented, from single sheets to boxed sets, from pop-ups to puzzles, and from the play world of children to internet downloads.
A selection of the models on display have been built by model maker Mike Stamper who has been building models for 40 years. In that time he has made over 200 models and visited nearly all of the real buildings.