Play:Date – Unlocking Cabinets Of Play | A New Experiential Pop-Up Centred On The Theme Of Toys And Play By National Museum of Singapore

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Reconnect with the joys of your favourite childhood toys, such as McDonald’s cherished collectibles, vintage Hot Wheels, popular POP MART figurines and even the timeless Tamagotchi!

Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Date: 5 Jul 2024 to 5 Jan 2025
Time: 10 am – 7 pm (last admission 6.30 pm), Daily
Fee: Free Admission

Step into a world of playful nostalgia at the National Museum of Singapore’s latest showcase centred on toys and play! Starting 5 July 2024, the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) invites visitors to relive and connect over nostalgic childhood memories in a new toy-themed experiential pop-up titled Play:Date – Unlocking Cabinets of Play.

Toys From Different Collections and Eras

The Museum worked with local toy collectors and artists to co-create this immersive showcase comprising large-scale artworks, extensive toy displays, and interactive experiences to tell the fascinating stories behind some of these beloved playtime icons of the past and trace their evolution across the years. 

From McDonald’s cherished collectibles and vintage Hot Wheels, to well-known POP MART figurines and timeless Tamagotchi – reopen these treasured cabinets of play and discover the fascinating stories behind these beloved icons.

A Uniquely Interactive Experience Across the Museum

Departing from the traditional exhibition experience of a museum, Play:Date activates various parts of the Museum to create a unique and immersive storytelling experience, including the temporary spaces and hoardings installed as part of the Museum’s ongoing restoration and upgrading works. 

The showcase begins from the moment visitors lay eyes on the Museum’s exterior. Serving as a prelude to the showcase, the hoarding around the Museum’s facade has been decorated with five large-scale commissioned artworks by five local artists that take visitors on a journey of collecting and the joy of toys in our lives. 

Each of the artworks features interactive and tactile elements, aiming to stimulate one’s innate curiosity and kickstart the process of learning through play. 

One for the Photos

As visitors step into the museum, they are greeted by the entrance to Play:Date – a tunnel housing a digital parade of toy figurines by local artist Lioncolony! These characters are inspired by a selection of toys from the 1950s to the 2000s from our National Collection and local collectors, and provide a precursor to the showcase’s overarching narrative of local and global social histories. 

As an additional tip, this is a great spot for photos too! 

A Showcase of over 250 Toys

Featuring an eclectic array of over 250 locally and globally recognisable toys largely from the 1980s to present day, Play:Date collectively highlights the socio-historical significance of toys in the Singapore story, told through the lens of local toy collectors and organisations, and allowing visitors to uncover the stories of their favourite toy brands.

The showcase kicks off with It's a Small World, featuring a selection of miniature character figurines from instantly recognisable brands that have captured the hearts of children around the globe. Visitors can take a trip down memory lane with a series of local McDonald’s toys – including the popular Mr Kiasu figurines, as well as a collection of Barbie dolls from Jian Yang, which includes unique collaborations with local brands and a series made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. his section also highlights collectible culture in Singapore from ActionCity, with locally-designed figurines for global companies such as POP MART and Disney.

Moving in, families will find Drive-Through Time, which as the name suggests features familiar brands such as Hot Wheels, Tamiya, and Matchbox. Toy enthusiasts and casual fans alike will be awed by The Original 16, the first-ever collection of cars released by Hot Wheels in 1968.

Lastly, at Batteries Included families will find retro game consoles that serve as a nostalgic reminder of the days before touchscreen technology! On display are iconic digital games of the past like Tamagotchi from Rachel Liew’s collection, which includes various rare designs as well as popular characters such as Gudetama, Hello Kitty and Pac-Man. Dads and Moms will also remember the classic and special handheld consoles by Nintendo and Casio, including a unique calculator that allows students to play a boxing game! 

Interactive Play and Personalised Experiences

Apart from toys and artworks, Play:Date also features several immersive and interactive experiences inspired by old-school gaming arcades. Visitors can purchase tokens to participate in a Memory Match game, where they are challenged to memorise a sequence of simple objects displayed on a screen, or a Roadblock Highway game, in which they race to the finish line while collecting coins and avoiding obstacles! 

In a playful finale, visitors are invited to design their own personalised avatar at the ‘Discover Your Play-sonality’ section. Choose from a selection of four digital toy avatars with different personality types and physical appearances to create their very own ‘Play:Mate’. For a small fee, visitors can accumulate points by playing the on-site digital games, and exchange these points to customise their avatar with a variety of Singapore-themed accessories. They can then head over to the accompanying photo booth to take photos of themselves with their ‘Play:Mate’, or opt for a physical photo printout with a donation to the museum. 


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.

So bring along your inner child and join us for a fun play date at the Museum!


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This article is prepared by

Leona Quek
Blessed with 3 handsome and loving boys in her life. Two of them call her Mommy, the other calls her Wifey. Every night, she wishes for an early bedtime, but misses her babies as soon as they sleep.

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