Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mint Museum of Toys in Singapore

Above: Poster for the Door of Hope Exhibit

Singaporeans are a funny bunch. We are so obedient and so afraid of breaking rules that I wonder sometimes what we're missing out on when we're so cautious and think forever before doing anything. Now why do I say this. Recently, after a trip to Bras Basah, I saw the sign that pointed where the Mint Museum of Toys was at (opposite Seah Street Deli at Raffles Hotel). I knew that was one of the places I wanted to see so it was good timing and we headed there.

If you're wondering where this museum is at, head this way or check out their website:

The Mint Museum and Café
26 Seah Street
Singapore 188382

Opening hours: Mint Museum from 9.30am to 6.30pm & Mint Cafe from 9.30am to 10.30pm

After paying the entrance fees ($7 per adult), we went in and started from the very top and walked our way down. Interesting displays and was rather nostalgic when I spot toys that I remember from my childhood days. So yes, looks of oooohhhhs and ahhhhs from me.

So as I was saying about us Singaporeans, maybe we are so well trained here and overseas that we should NEVER EVER take pictures when we're in museums. I mean, god help us if we even try to sneak a picture with our mobile phones cuz the consequences could be real horrid..we might end up at museum hell when we die ya.

I saw some very nice dolls that I wanted to take pictures off. I looked around and saw there were cameras pointing my way (well space rather limited there so wherever you stand, the camera will most likely be looking at you kid. Hmm, so the security people are probably looking at me now wondering why I am staring at them security cameras. I looked around to see if there are any signs that prohibits photo taking. No such signs. I walked around and even asked Slawek, maybe I missed the sign somehow. He confirmed that there were no such signs. I looked around and saw that no one else was taking photos. I mean, there was this REAL FEAR that I might get thrown to jail if I actually took photos of the exhibits. So to play safe, I waited till the guy who was cleaning the display cabinet went off and the plan was if any security fella came to drag me away, I will just cry and claim temporary madness that made me take them pictures.

So will that plan, I took out my mobile and started taking pictures. And guess what, the same people who were only browsing, saw what I was doing and ALL of them whipped out their phones and starting snapping away. I burst out laughing because everyone was just waiting for one person to do it before they actually started to take snap shots. I guess there's security in numbers. What can they possibility do when it's like 7 of us versus one security guard ya.

Feeling alot braver now, I took out my brand new camera and took proper shots and am so glad I did as I now have pictures of the dolls that I feel in love with to show everyone.

If you love toys, check out this museum. If you want to relive your childhood with some fond memories of them toys you played with, check out this museum. I sure hope this museum will be around for a long time as it's such a shame when neat places like this go bust in a year or two!

My favourite area would be where the dolls were on display. There is the DOOR OF HOPE collection where the dolls originate from China and range from 1920's-1930's. So these are real vintage toys. This mission was established in 1901 by 5 Western women who wanted to help the Chinese women who had to deal with abuse and prejudice then. There were young children and women who were sold to brothels and these 5 Western women provided a safe haven for those who managed to escape the brothels. Other than learning to read and write, they also learnt to sew where they worked on Doll Project. These dolls were sold and contributed to the girls' personal income as well as help upkeep the mission. Each doll is handcrafted and unique and it's just amazing how 'real' the features are.

I took some snapshots of the dolls so that I can share how amazing they are. However, being pictures, they don't do justice to the real dolls so if you have a chance, go take a look at the exhibit.

Above: A baby all safely wrapped up

The details are amazing and you just can't help peer closely to study how real they look. Check out this pair below dressed in silk.

There are alot more dolls on display and these are just a sample of what's available. Below, you have another kiddo in silk.

And one of my favourites has to be this one - mother and child. Just beautiful I think. Looking at this closer, it's probably the amah carrying the child from a wealthy family cuz no wealthy lady of the house would be caught dead carrying her kid this manner. The kiddo is all dressed up wherelse the amah is simply dressed. I guess things haven't changed much for us today. These helpers are usually women employed by the family to clean, look after the children etc. And they are usually very close to the children as they are the main care giver. And if we look at things here in Singapore, many families have helpers to help look after their children and who do we see the kids running too when they fall or need a cuddle? The helpers. Rather sad I think but guess that's the cost of having both parents out at work to bring in more income to give the children a better life.

There is another collection of dolls from China and it's by a talented doll-maker Michael Lee and here his first two dolls that he made. Again, beautiful dolls like those above.

And here are more of Michael's dolls. Dolls such as these really give insight to how life was back then. So much about the culture, the way people behave and dress back then can be learnt from these dolls. Who wants Barbie dolls when you have these beauties.

Update: Googled some and found this website that's worth checking out if you want to see more Door of Hope Dolls.


Anonymous joybucket said...

These are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

10:32 am  
Blogger Liz said...

You are very welcome :o)

9:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am African-American and love collecting Ada Lum, Door of Hope and Michael Lee dolls. Thank you for sharing the museum info. When God created man he made sure all races were represented in much beauty. My collection is full of multi-cultural dolls. All people are wondrous to behold.Be blessed.
Betty J.

3:17 am  
Anonymous Papercherries said...

I am thrilled to find this! I have 3 dolls by Micheal Lee & knew they were something special!Thank you!

11:29 pm  

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