Friday, December 22, 2006

Toy Museum Seah Street

Its 6.29pm, I'm lying in my bed with a sore throat and slight temperature and I suddenly realize I have a 6.30 function at the Toy Museum. ... ding... two panadols, a hot shower and I was out of my house in 10 minutes flat.

I waited for quite awhile before a taxi showed up. This one however had a "BUSY" sign on it. The driver, a kindly Muslim man asked where I was going because he was on his way to the Mosque for evening prayers. When I told him my destination, he said "Hop on, its on my way." He talked about Islam a little bit and then I felt the (Holy) Spirit prompt me to use this opening to share the Gospel with him. In Singapore - despite the religious freedom- one has to be careful in such matters, I think it is illegal to preach the gospel to a Muslim, but, thankfully, it is not illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity unlike Malaysia. Anyhow, I only went so far as to talk to him about the appeal of Christianity to the young. And he laughed and said, "Why yes, the young are more open and receptive to such positive messages." And after a bit of nervous laughter, we left it like that; the trip was also short- only about 6 minutes. And I've come to realize that ramming the Gospel of Christ down someone's ear like a Salem preacher is counterproductive.

The Mint Museum of Toys 26 Seah Street Tel: 6287 0060 is the world's first purpose-built toy museum. The architecture and design of the place is truly outstanding. Very modern, minimalist, plenty of immense glass panels and white polished reconstituted marble floors - I had that zen feeling when you walked thru its stainless steel doors.

A few of the toys date from the 19th century but most of them are from the 20th century. I took particular interest in the Star Wars toys- mint and still in their original packaging- and the collection of 1960s memorabilia toys ranging from the Green Hornet to Double 07. What we saw in the beautiful glass cabinets only represented a fraction of the collection of Chang Yang Fa. Its hard to believe but this one man, Mr Chang, amassed the entire collection. He started early at 6. He collected cutie pie dolls, gollywogs, mickey mouse dolls, teddy bears, tin toys - same make, different national manufactuers. Two of the rare tin toys included a windup Popeye the Sailor Man tank and a Mickey Mouse hurdy gurdy model which included a workable dancing Minnie.

I think the most poignant ones are the collection of 1920 - 1930 dolls made by escaped Chinese slave women and girls at missionary stations. In the 1920s and 1930s, Chinese girls were often kidnapped, or sold to become sex slaves and menial workers. Christians missionaries took pity on them and set up five homes which acted as sancturies for the girls who escaped. They were taught how to read, write, do math, needlework, sewing which included doll making so that they find proper employment when they left.

In a way I think Museum is a temple to Mr Chang's collection. Clearly, a work that surpasses the dedication and effort of most mortals. I can't help making mental comparisons with the ancient pyramids which housed the wealth of the pharoahs.

Its way cool- check it out here at Uniquely Singapore

Opening hours are from: 9.30am to 6.30pm daily and the cost of admission is SGD 10 (Adult) and SGD 5 (Child). That's about US$6 and US$3.

The Museum also does functions, there is a restaurant at the basement. And here: I attended the first Writer's Clique meeting. You can click onto the Yahoo Group page here. It was fun. We talked about all kinds of things under the sun. It was an open relaxed event... quite cool. Special praise should be given to Ms. Rena Tan, the function's organizer- for going thru the trouble of hiring the place- and taking the risk if NOONE showed up. 35 people were suppose to be there. I think only 15 came. I guess it was expected- everyone is away on holidays at this time of the year.

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