Growing up 1966-1965 exhibition focuses on history of play in the founding days of Singapore. This museum minor gallery in the Singapore National Museum offers insight on the experiences of growing up in Singapore during the 1950s and 1960s. This would mainly incudes the baby boomer population in Singapore. Let explore the gallery with a walkthrough.

Welcome to the Growing up 1966-1965 exhibition at the Singapore National Museum
Welcome to the Growing up 1966-1965 exhibition at the Singapore National Museum.

Toys, both in the past and present

The gallery sits on the upper second floor of the national museum of Singapore. Two large heavy double doors welcome you to a relatively large room with classroom tables taking center stage.

The main hall of the Growing up galleries
The main hall of the Growing up galleries.

Moreover, kids love toys, and have always been a part of the experience of growing up. What’s Your Toy Story is a small display focused on play through toy artifacts. Also lined along the walls are cabinets filled with various classic toys. First off, here you can find small metal toys as well as well as riding items such as a wooden horse. Toy captions at each display capture each toy’s special significance to it owner.

Museum second floors
Gallerias
Fun cabinet

Furthermore, if your parents who grew up in the 1960s era, bringing them here would definitely invoke some old fond memories of their childhood. Though I felt the quantity of toy displays are tad lacking and could be expanded.

Toy cabinet with toys and trinkets from the 60s
Toy cabinet with toys and trinkets from the 60s.

Also, interestingly, for kicks, the National Museum ran a campaign aiming to inspire visitors on the story behind each artifact shown here in the galleries. The museum invited children of today to contribute what they think of toys of the present era. Going on the idea that every toy has its own story It allows you to see how today’s toys are similar or different from those of the yesteryear. There is definitely more plastic today.

60s School days

Hand-built wooden classroom tables typically used in schools in the 1960, repurposed as a showcase display
Hand-built wooden classroom tables typically used in schools in the 1960, repurposed as a showcase display.

Moving on are school days in the 1960s, complete with classroom tables and era old-school uniform. Besides uniforms, you can find under display cabinets, stationary, books and notes used by school students in the early days of independence of Singapore.

Growing up 1966-1965 Early school days
Early school days.

A corner of fun

Additionally, tucked at the rear of the galleries sits a small room housing 3 separate wall displays. The displays covers stories, told through personal anecdotes and through interactive installations.

The rear gallery of the Growing up 1966-1965 exhibition
The rear gallery of the Growing up 1966-1965 exhibition.

Zoetropes Stroboscopic animation table

Also taking center stage here is a carousel which uses a Zoetropes Stroboscopic Effect to animate a figurine using motor-driven rotating carousel. Check it out!

Also, back then, it was easy to be entertained with play and past times through simple means. Examples includes card games, badminton, catching spiders, marbles and spinning tops. Digital game addiction was less much a problem back then.

However, despite these political turbulence and social unrest (like racial riots), kids growing up in the 1960s were still able to enjoy happy childhood years. Also, the galleries also teach that you do not need fancy toys to have fun.

Zoetropes animation
Nightlife
Past times

Also, entertainment can also be found in social circles and spaces. Children would have spent most of their time, such as in kampungs villages, schools and popular entertainment values. You can find mention of Rock n roll and Elvis disco nights, and even a display of classic bottled drinks which was a popular staple in parties then.

Community kampung spirit

In addition, back then were stories of children friendships and experiences through local identity.  This was relieved through the gotong royong “community” spirit. It laid the foundation for the Singapore’s post-war generation, forging dreams and aspirations in a multi-racial Singapore.

entertainment can also be found in social circles and spaces
50-60s entertainment found in community social circles and spaces.

Moreover, the 1950s and 1960s were a tumultuous period of change for Singapore. It was the 1959 era with the British handing over Singapore to self-governance. Also, then came Singapore’s merger with Malaya in the 1963, and the road to independence from 1965. It was a time when Singapore was beset with challenges and uncertainties.

All in all, one can only reflect how life was so much simpler back then. Children were also happy without the tether of games and electronics of today. You are good for the Growing up galleries for under 30 minutes tops. It’s a small gallery and complimentary to the other exhibitions on the second floor. Definitely one to check out especially with people who grew up in the 1960s for nostalgia.

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