Step into a world of playful nostalgia at the National Museum of Singapore’s latest showcase, “Play:Date – Unlocking Cabinets of Play”, which centres on toys and play.

PlayDate - Unlocking Cabinets of Play

Opening on 5 July 2024, this immersive pop-up invites visitors to relive and connect over nostalgic memories of favourite toys, from dolls and mini-cars to gaming consoles. Developed as part of the Museum’s Collecting Contemporary Singapore initiative, this showcase features large-scale artworks, extensive toy displays, and interactive experiences co-created with local toy collectors and artists to tell the stories behind beloved playtime icons and trace their evolution over the years.

Playdate NMS large-scale interactive artworksFive large-scale, interactive artworks by local artists adorning the Museum’s facade.

Departing from traditional museum exhibitions, “Play:Date” activates various parts of the Museum, including temporary spaces and hoardings installed as part of ongoing restoration and upgrading works. The showcase begins with the Museum’s exterior, decorated with five large-scale commissioned artworks by local artists. These artworks, which feature interactive and tactile elements, illustrate the process of bringing toys to life, capture the excitement of acquiring toys, and evoke fond childhood memories.

PlayDate National Museum immersive portalStep into an immersive portal featuring artist Lioncolony’s iconic ‘Gman’ character as various toy figurines.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a digital parade of toy figurines by local artist Lioncolony, inspired by toys from the 1950s to the 2000s. This serves as a precursor to the showcase’s overarching narrative of local and global social histories.

PlayDate NMS collection of toysA glimpse into the extensive collection of toys displayed in ‘It’s A Small World’, ‘Drive-Through Time’ and ‘Batteries Included’.

The main exhibition features over 250 toys from local collectors, highlighting the socio-historical significance of toys in Singapore’s story. The collection is divided into three sections:

  • It’s a Small World: This section showcases miniature character figurines from globally recognisable brands. Highlights include McDonald’s toys, Barbie dolls with unique local collaborations, and collectible figures from ActionCity.
  • Drive-Through Time: This section features car racing toys from brands like Hot Wheels, Tamiya, and Matchbox. Notable items include a remodelled Tamiya Rover Mini Cooper autographed by Tamiya’s CEO and the first collection of Hot Wheels cars from 1968.
  • Batteries Included: This section captures the shift from tactile to digital toys, showcasing retro game consoles like Tamagotchi and handheld devices by Nintendo and Casio. It also features modern digital games like Animal Crossing and Roblox.

PlayFACTO Open House 2024

Playdate NMS arcade gamesPlay our arcade-inspired games and customise your own digital avatar in ‘Discover your Play-sonality’.

In addition to toys and artworks, “Play:Date” offers several immersive and interactive experiences inspired by old-school gaming arcades. Visitors can participate in games like Memory Match and Roadblock Highway, view themselves through a retro 8-bit filter, and design personalised avatars at the “Discover Your Play-sonality” section. Points earned from on-site digital games can be exchanged for customising avatars with Singapore-themed accessories. Visitors can also take photos with their avatars at a photo booth.

Playdate NMS PlayMate at our photo boothSnap a picture with your ‘Play:Mate’ at our photo booth!

As part of the National Museum’s Collecting Contemporary Singapore initiative, visitors are invited to share their own toy stories and donate toys from the 1980s to the present day, potentially for future display in the Museum’s galleries.

Running concurrently with the showcase, MUSEUM MARTKET by ABRY partners with the old-school Holland Village party shop Khiam Teck to bring traditional toys and games to visitors. Khiam Teck, a beloved local establishment that closed in May 2024, has found new life within the Museum’s walls, allowing customers to relive nostalgic memories.

PlayDate - Unlocking Cabinets of Play at National Museum of Singapore

Visitors can look forward to the opening weekend of “Play:Date” on 6 and 7 July, featuring a series of familiar and unexpected games. Additional programming will align with the Singapore Night Festival, which coincides with the theme of play.

“Play:Date – Unlocking Cabinets of Play” at the National Museum of Singapore offers a delightful journey through the history of toys, inviting visitors to reconnect with their childhood memories and explore the cultural significance of play in shaping Singapore’s social history.

📅 5 Jul 2024 to 5 Jan 2025
⏰ 10am to 7pm (last admission at 6.30pm)
📍 National Museum of Singapore
🏷 Free

Play:Date – Unlocking Cabinets of Play is a free showcase and will run until 5 January 2025. Separate fees apply for the digital gamified experiences within the showcase. For more information, visit here.

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