a penny for this?

A narrow 5-storey shophouse designed by Chan Soo Khian from the award-winning SCDA Architects, the private MINT museum of toys is located at Seah Street, right beside the Raffles Hotel. At the basement is a cafe with seats upholstered in a specially-made robot pattern brocade!

There was an article in the papers about the the museum recently, so I shan't describe the museum in any detail - except to say it's a great place to spend a slow lazy weekend afternoon.

I want a name card like this...

I guess one of the perks of my job is that I get to go to a museum on a weekday afternoon and call it work!

But what's better is being brought round the museum by its owner, Mr Chang. An engineer in his 50s who started collecting toys since he was a kid, Mr Chang now has a 3000 sq ft warehouse full of toys. On display at the museum are just 5% of his collection of pre-80s toys of every genre imaginable. But how did an engineer get to start and own his own museum?!? By living modestly otherwise. His wife revealed that their 3 children share 1 bedroom. They don't own a garage full of fancy cars.

It's all about choice. That's what Mr Chang taught me that day. And passion - sustained and pursued without compromise.

Once, when asked to choose 1 toy to speak to a group of schoolkids about, Mr Chang chose a penny toy made in Germany in the 30s. A simple tin toy of a woman pushing a cart, but beautifully and carefully made. He wanted to use the toy to illustrate the lesson that no matter how menial or unimportant your job may seem, do it to the utmost and do it with pride. Though it cost only a penny, whoever designed and made the tin toy did so carefully and with obvious attention to detail. Now that's a trait many of us Singaporeans are not brought up to value. Instead, we are taught to judge everything and weigh our effort pragmatically against the financial return or reward received.

Mr Chang also showed us his special collection of Micale Dolls, each handmade by the late Michael Lee - a 4 feet tall man with a big heart, giving all the money he made to refugees in Hong Kong.

The only disappointment was the cliche blown up in the museum's elevator, "He with the most toys, when he dies, wins." Surely someone who professes to admire Michael Lee and espouses the virtues of the penny toy cannot believe this ridiculous cliche. I comfort myself that his branding consultant must have insisted on this.

J and I don't have a museum. But for nothing, not even a penny, ampulets share with you some of our favourite stuffed toys here.



Anonymous said…
Do both of you love your job?
tcn afen said…
oh my god I have that monkey!I call it spastic monkey.where did you get yours?
ampulets said…
jing - we call it saoru (jap for monkey?) - not as insultingly-affectionate as yours! it's the only soft toy we know that can stand on its own 2 feet. it's J's toy - cos it resembles him, haha. we got it in S'pore.

justme - I really don't mind my job. It pays pretty decent, I get to meet interesting folks now and then (like Mr Chang), it's in an area I have strong interest in all my life, plus I'm in a position where I hopefully can help improve things. My immediate boss is human and generous, as with all my colleagues. It has its frustrations and I have to operate within a "system" - but at this point, I thank God for what I have! All available alternatives (unless I haven't looked or dreamt wide enough) are somehow not yet enough to draw me away.

I can't speak for J...but if you've read the earlier posts, I think it's fair to conclude that "love" is an overstatement bordering on inaccuracy. It's not perfect, and he's an idealist (J, am I right?)

Hey, justyou, do you love you job (however you define job)? :>
Anonymous said…
yup! Love my job, I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. For J .....'You've got to find what you love,'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
ampulets said…
Hey. justme. you are right, I think it is a good philosophy to live by, but it wont be easy. By the way, do we know you?....I mean personally....:)-TOHA
Anonymous said…
I know it won't be easy, but remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Unknown said…
being the curator of a toy museum would rank as one of the funnest jobs in the world =P maybe one of u really shld apply
ampulets said…
yeah. SB. Yve checked, but they already have one. Look like Andy Warhol somemore, stylo hor...?-TOHA
Unknown said…
ooooh .. maybe they can create a position for u afterall u hv designy specs

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