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Nostalgia's a hit for Minnesota History Center's toy exhibit

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Nostalgia brought a record number of people to the Minnesota History Center this summer.

Gumby, Barbie, the Slinky, Pet Rock, Mr. Potato Head and Hot Wheels are among the toys at the History Center's "Toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s" exhibit – the toys are on display in three imagined living rooms from each decade, the Pioneer Press says.

The History Center said in a news release Thursday, the exhibit helped break attendance records for the months of July and August.

In August, 17,233 people walked through the museum's doors, beating the previous record for August attendance by 29 percent. In July, 17,641 people went to the History Center, breaking the July record set in 2009.

Dan Spock, director of the Minnesota History Center, said in the release. "The enthusiastic public response [to the exhibit] shows how childhood memories reverberate through recent history," adding older visitors came in and remembered the toys and shared those memories with friends and family.

That's what the exhibit intended to do – not only to spark memories, but connect people to history through their history and have people reflect on the changing culture in America, according to the book, "Toys of the '50s, '60s, and '70s," which accompanies the History Center's exhibit.

The Star Tribune notes it was a time when people challenged gender roles and racial stereotypes, as well as questioned authority. And the toy business "boomed like it never had before" thanks to new technology and the spread of TV and advertising, the newspaper notes.

The History Center says it expects large crowds until the exhibit closes Jan. 4, 2015, so it's extending its hours for the final week of the exhibit's run.

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