MINT - Museum of Toys
Mint (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys), the world's first purpose-built museum for toys, is located at 26 Seah Street, in the Arts & Heritage district of Singapore. The museum showcases an extensive collection of vintage toys, including rare and unique one-of-a-kind toys. Whether you are a child at heart or an avid toy collector, The Mint Museum of Toys has something for everyone. Housed in a contemporary five-storey building, it boasts a rich mix of nostalgia, education and inspiration. The Museum's boutique café offers you a contemporary menu complemented by a fine wine selection. As you sit down for a meal or a short break, enjoy collectables that are thematically linked to the toys in the main exhibition.
The exhibition of toys were mainly separated into different levels, where toys were displayed in glass shelves. The wide collection of toys were very neatly categorised so the entire place basically looked organised. I, personally have a soft spot for such childish objects and despite them being kept at a distance in locked cabinets I was still awed by the whole experience as I was consistently being surrounded by tons of toys. However, I felt that it could have provided a more wholesome and cosy touch if it could have been more of a hands-on experience for some sections.To much of my liking, the museum sells many old school toys like marbles, five stones and plastic bubbles which I of course could not resist. They were an essential part of my childhood and I had to buy them down!
The toy museum brought back many memories and at the end of the day I enjoyed myself as I found myself staring face first at my childhood. The entire journey felt a little too short though as it was all confined within a small area. It was very different from what I had expected as I thought it would have been more of a Toys' R Us kind of trip, but it is a refreshing experience reading about the origins of many types of toys. Finally, although it was a little pricey, the cafe at the basement of the toy museum felt like just the right touch back into reality after what can be considered as an escapade into the world of toys.
When I went over today, the museum was undergoing some renovation works in the bar areas, however all the displays were still up and running. Row after rows of different toys, all from eras completely foreign to me, it was overwhelming and mind-blowing at the same time. It was hard to even concentrate on a single display shelf, as it seemed like my attention was constantly being torn between the first vintage toy to the next. As we wandered around the shelves, my dad would occasionally point out some of the old gems he recognised from his childhood, including a top which he remembered receiving as a christmas present. It was amusing as he retold the story of his love for the toy and subsequent indignation when one of his brothers broke it. This shows how the MINT museum is not merely a museum, but a physical representation of the memories and childhood of the people in the past, which makes it even more important to support it.
Sentimentality aside, even as a teenager, I had a hard time relating to these 'golden-era' toys, stacked high up on the shelves. I imagine it would be an even more difficult concept for the younger kids, who'd probably prefer playing with the toys than just looking at them through a glass panelling. There was a mother-son pair browsing the displays on the same level as we were. The son got restless after the first level of toys and started to run around and jump on the bench impatiently. There was a sudden moment of frustration as the mother yelled at the boy: "Look and pay attention! I came here for YOU." It was at that moment when I realised, the MINT museum was never for the kids that parents would drag along around the different displays, it was for the adults - the parents and the grandparents. Those seeking to remember a little bit about their own childhood and the past that had been forgotten with what is the finality of time itself.
The MINT museum is a place where adults can become the children they once were. Even if it were only for that fraction of a moment, when a beautiful smile becomes painted on your face as you recognise the toys you once played with. As that same mother had, when I saw her eyes light up at a particular doll display shelf - it is definitely a place worth checking out - for old time's sake.
Mind you, the fact that one cannot feel and touch is a bit disappointing, but hey, these are a wonderful and in many cases rare collection. I would love to go there with a child bought up in the IT age of computer games and see the reaction. Perhaps there would be puzzlement.
I look at the old dinky toys and die cast trucks and wonders made out of what now looks like flimsy tin and I smile. The blurb tells you there that the collection has over 50,000 toys some over a century old.
I saw one piece which had a tag which claimed that its value was almost $15,000. What ever happened to my Batcar, my Little Yellow School Bus, my Triang Train, my Matchbox cars and so on?
It's and interesting enough place, particularly if you are a little older. Perhaps a little pricey, but of you are over 60 you can get a discount. And remember, you look at things behind cages. No touchy feely here.
It is a really tiny and quaint museum; and within vicinity of Bras Basah! In fact, I think you might just walk past it and miss it if you are not on a lookout for it. I find its interior décor quite unique, though I must say its display of toy collection is a little eccentric.
The last time I visited the museum, the toys were displayed on shelves arranged consecutively after each other; and this made them look pretty squeezed and short of space. It was not as spaced out as those you would normally see in ordinary museums.
However, I believe that will not bother you very much because I believe the uniqueness of the toys alone will be enough to distract your attention away from the cluttered arrangement.
I believe this will bring back strong feelings of nostalgia and sentimental thoughts for those born in the 1990s and before; the younger generation no longer play with toys, they play with iPads. It will probably be a more fruitful trip than those of the later generation. It is definitely worth a visit; it has wide collection of vintage toys!
The staff were courteous enough, and we made our way from the top floor downwards. The toys floor are defined by the era they came from. Literally thousands of toys lined all the display cases! But the downside of it was that the displayed toys all look so cramped up. Coupled with narrow walkways and a mid-sized crowd, it was a challenge to navigate our way through the exhibits.
We were done rather fast, and as we exited the museum, we stopped by the gift shop which was laden with toys and playthings of yesteryear. the whole experience was not really what I expected, but it was something to satisfy my anticipation at least.
The place could use a lot of better designing concept. Same old plain walls hanging different posters of the toys used in the past plastered the wall. I personally think that since it is such a fun place by its marketing idea, I think they should step up more on the decor.
The ticket was no special, typical as usual things in singapore. I went on my way up to the top so I would have the laziness working downwards instead of upwards. The first few floors were mind-boggling, seeing exactly how toys were in the past and how much intricacy there is even with a lack of good materials to use. They also include toys from Singapore Kampung days where you have blown up paper ball and gasing, a malay kampung top spun by wound up strings on the wooden top itself. The details of preservation also suprised me to see that they have kept so many great toy invention in my opinion in either mint condition or good condition.
However, the further down I walked, the lack of interest appear more and more prominent on my face. The toys had paint peeling off and some were simply so bad in condition I did not deem it as museum keepsake anymore. Scold me if you wish for finding historical toys which fascinated kids in the past and that it is a museum and it is part of their job to find and maintain the original and worn out integrity of the toys. I know for a fact that people could donate to the museum and that is why I find that they could find better pieces of the same toy to sort of "upgrade" the quality and give viewers a better peek into toys of the age.
The museum is rather small since it is such a niche area. Unlike other museums which have large galleries and with the displays spaced out, this museum is more like a personal collection. The displays are cramped with many different toys, barely spaced out in glass containers. There isn't much space to walk either, it's like going into a rather cramped toy shop. Because of the display style it is very difficult to 'take your time' and appreciate the displays like I like to do when going to other museums. I guess it can be described as sensory overload; there are too many things to look at and you can't really take in everything at one time, so you just glance and move on.
There are many different kinds of toys on displays though. These include the 'golliwog' which is a special kind of rag doll. I used to read about them in Enid Blyton books but didnt manage to actually see what one looked like until I spotted it in the museum. There is also a section for toys specific to the Singapore culture, which may be interesting and will bring back memories for many. Other than that, the nostalgic quotient of many of the toys were completely lost on me because I had never seen or heard of them before. I guess toys aren't really my cup of tea as well. If you are an enthusiast though, I'm very sure that you will have a better time there than me.
The very top of the museum has a restaurant where you may want to have a meal, although I did not because it seems rather pricey. The ground floor of the museum also has a store selling various odds and ends including toys that Singaporean Children generally play with (the self assembled styrofoam airplanes and paper ball that you can blow up are some examples) although I believe that you can get the same thing for a much cheaper price at a convenience store in the housing estates.
The MINT Museum is an interesting idea, but the experience of going there itself was rather bland and boring. If you are not that interested in toys, the entrance fee would definitely be a waste of money.
The museum is divided into many sections according to the kind of toys and the era they belong to. Each floor has a theme to it, which the museum guide will nicely explain to you. He will give you an insight into the history behind the toys and it helps if you have some prior general knowledge in order to appreciate fully the value of these toys.
Personally, i found the place rather boring and depressing. The museum is really tiny and I can see why. We were the only ones there and I think the fact that it is not so popular can be attributed to the unreasonable admission rates. Maybe $6 would have been more appropriate.
Expect a wide variety of toys - from Mickey Mouse to China figurines to Astroboy to Tintin. They can be made from tin, cloth, wood, paper, plastic, etc. but are all united in the fact that they were crafted to bring joy and fun to children.
This is a haven for collectors and is sure to evoke child-like wonderment in people. Although small, it showcases rare toys dating back decades ago. It helps one get to know about other cultures and they even sell traditional toys such as kutikuti, chapteh and tops as souvenirs!