Skip to main content

Spirographs featured at Family Fun Day July 14 at Cultural Heritage Center

Circles in circles and round and round – do you remember using a Spirograph? Come to the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre for Family Fun Saturday July 14 from 10-11:30 a.m. CDT and give a Spirograph a spin.

Supplies are provided and children need to be accompanied by an adult. There is free admission to the museum galleries during the program time.

“Doodling and drawing are something most people enjoy,” said Jay Smith, museum director for the South Dakota State Historical Society. “Spirograph is a great way to create beautiful doodles that are almost works of art. It was wildly popular in the 1970s so using Spirograph for a Family Fun Saturday is a great idea while we have the ‘Spirit of the 70s’ exhibit on display in the gallery. I hope everyone will enjoy the program and the exhibit.”

Spirograph is a drawing toy that comes with a variety of plastic shapes with ridged edges. A design is created by placing a small shape inside or outside a larger one and using a pen to trace the path of the smaller shape as it rolls alongside the other. The cogs along the edge of each piece keep them connected and create beautiful patterns as the pen is rolled around.

Spirograph was the brainchild of Denys Fisher, a mechanical engineer in the United Kingdom, who originally developed it as a drafting tool in the early 1960s. After encouragement from friends and family, Fisher began to market his drawing set as a toy. Spirograph first went on sale in 1965. Its geometric and swirling patterns were similar to those found in 1960s Op Art. It also fit in well with the popular psychedelic patterns of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Spirograph became the number-one selling toy in the United States for Christmas in 1967. It continues to be popular and is still available today.

Despite its apparently random results, the concept behind the toy is rooted in mathematics. The intricate designs it produces are known as epicycles, a mathematical term for the “path that one circle creates as it moves along the interior or exterior of the circumference of another circle.”

The museum is open from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. CDT Monday through Saturday, and 1-4:30 p.m. on Sundays and most holidays. Call 605-773-3458 for more information about exhibits, special events and upcoming activities.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

Powered by Firespring