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Sonneberg was once a major center of toy production. To this day, Germany's most important toy museum is a reminder of this time, inviting you into the fascinating world of dolls, model trains and teddy bears in the town in the Thuringian Forest.


Did you know that there were dolls to play with in ancient times? Or that people in Sonneberg made doll heads out of papier-mâché? Yes, even bread dough was used to make toys. It was only later that sheet metal came to dominate - and it was much later that plastic began its triumphant advance. The German Toy Museum in Sonneberg has been around since 1901 - it is the oldest of its kind in Germany. And with 100,000 objects made of many different materials, it is also a very impressive one. So if you'd like to marvel at some old toys or maybe even feel like playing yourself (there are several play stations in the museum!), stop by Sonneberg.

Toys from many countries

For centuries, a large part of the inhabitants of Sonneberg produced toys, and until the fall of the Wall, the toy company "Sonni" in particular flourished. It exported dolls and stuffed animals to many countries - including the Federal Republic. There, the items were relabeled for large mail-order companies. With the economic changes after 1989 came the end in the 1990s - but the wonderful museum remained and grew. It tells the story of toys since their beginnings all over the world - and is thus naturally also a small history of mankind. Among other things, you can see old dolls made of various materials, moving model trains, toy cars, stone building sets and, and, and.

Sonneberg at the world exhibition

Once upon a time: The world exhibition group "Thüringer Kirmes" takes you back to a bygone era
Once upon a time: The world exhibition group "Thüringer Kirmes" takes you back to a bygone era © Thomas Wolf

The "Thuringian Fair" tableau is particularly unique. With 67 almost lifelike figures, a rural church fair around 1900 is recreated there. The project was implemented for the 1910 World's Fair in Brussels and was intended to make Sonneberg toy manufacturing better known. Today, the historic fair is brought to even more life every 30 minutes with light and sound - providing a nostalgic reminder of the great toy days in Sonneberg.

Cover picture: Known and unknown flying objects - in the staircase of the German Toy Museum © Deutsches Spielzeugmuseum

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