Rigamajig Basic Builder Set, 2011, designed by Cas Holman, manufactured by Heroes Will Rise, Inc. Courtesy of the artist.

Object/s of Play: The Work of Cas Holman and Karen Hewitt explores the creative processes of two award-winning American toy designers—a generation apart—who interpret the concept of open-ended play in their own unique ways. Instead of providing step-by-step instructions or written rules about how to engage with their toys, both Holman and Hewitt design playthings that encourage children to use their own imaginations, fostering creativity, ingenuity, and independent thinking.

On view in the Pizzagalli Center’s Diana and John Colgate Gallery, this interactive exhibition will be organized into four playful sections. The exhibit begins with a selection of blocks and construction toys from the Shelburne Museum’s collection. In many ways, these play objects are precursors of the designs of Cas and Karen and provoke questions about the changing views of childhood, education, gender roles, and the problematic nature of exhibiting the material culture of children and childhood in museum settings.

The second section will focus on Karen Hewitt’s prolific fifty-year career as the founder/designer of the Learning Materials Workshop (Burlington, VT and New York, NY), featuring a range of her famous toys, including, Thingamabobbin, Arcobaleno, and Coloraturo and some never before seen recent playful experiments with materials. The third section will examine Cas Holman’s iterative design practice and will include displays of her unique sketching and model making process for her award-winning Rigamajig play set and new concept, The Critter. The fourth and final section will consist of an interactive Rigamajig play space with specially built workstations designed to accommodate children of all ages and physical capabilities.

Colgate Gallery, Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education


May 13, 2023 - Opening

Oct 22, 2023 - Closing