The 1950s and 1960s were a tumultuous period of change for Singapore.
From self-governance (1959) to its merger with Malaya (1963) and then to independence (1965), it was a time when Singapore was beset with uncertainties and challenges as it sought an identity it could call its own. Despite the political turbulence and social unrest, children growing up in those times were still able to enjoy happy childhood years.
Ongoing | Daily from 10 am – 7 pm | Free admission for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and visitors aged 6 years and below | National Galery, Level 2, Growing Up Gallery
This gallery offers insight on the experiences of growing up in Singapore during the 1950s and 1960s through familiar social spaces where children would have spent most of their time.
In kampongs (Malay for “villages”), schools and popular entertainment values, children found friendships and experienced an emerging local identity. Through personal anecdotes and interactive installations, relive the gotong royong (Malay for “community”) spirit that laid the foundation of a multi-racial Singapore and girded its post-war generation as they forged their dreams and aspirations.
What’s Your Toy Story?
Toys have always been a part of the experience of growing up, both in the past and present. The National Museum recently invited children of today’s generation to contribute stories of their own treasured toys. How are today’s toys similar to or different from the toys that children played with in the past?
As the children's captions show, each toy has a special significance. Do you have a toy with an interesting story to tell as well? Just like these toys, every artifact has its own story. Through this campaign, we hope to inspire visitors to be curious about the story behind each artifact in the museum.
Julia van Steen, 5 years old
“My aunty Shirley got it for me when I was younger to help me learn my letters. My caterpillar always smiles and can dance. It has a lot of legs. It has letters all over its body. The body has many colours. It has a smiling red face. That’s why we call him ‘red-face’ caterpillar. It keeps me happy.”
Dylan Tee, 5 years old
Toy: Cement Mixer
“This is the first toy my grandpa gave to me and I love to watch how the cement mixer’s revolving drum revolves.”
Luca Demeglio, 6 years old
Toy: Ben 10 Characters
“It was a gift from my uncle on my birthday. I enjoy creating stories with the characters, because his changing alien powers are exciting and fun. It’s the first character from a television programme that I love.”
Marie Nguyen, 7 years old
“I like to explore space. It is dangerous, it’s special and there are so many things to explore! I can explore the galaxy, black holes and the solar system. It is the coolest job in the whole wide world! I want to be the first Astronaut child.”
Aditya Purwar, 7 years old
"Because I made it"
Lara van Steen, 8 years old
“It is special to me because it makes me very happy and it is fluffy. When I feel scared in my room when it’s dark, I will cuddle it. It’s like my friend who is always there for me. I talk to him a lot, even though he doesn’t reply to me, I am sure that he understands me. I often bring him on holidays because that’s what friends are for.”
Annabelle Lim, 10 years old
Toy: NYGH doll
“She looks a lot like me. I got her from the Nanyang Girls High carnival. Like me, she loves nature and has big eyes. She also has a bob cut like me. I sleep with her every night. You can never find her anywhere else, because she is a hand sewn limited edition doll. She has the same name as me.”
Leow Koen, 10 years old
“This particular bey that I have is my most powerful Beyblade, and I always use it when battling other beys. The design and strength it has is why it is special to me.”
Rino Hossain, 11 years old
Toy: Toy Elephant
“When I was nine, my uncle came to visit Singapore and we went to Night Safari where he bought this elephant for me. I named it Ellie, and have slept with it every day ever since. It is very soft, cuddly and cute! I really, really, really love it and want to share it with the museum.”