Vintage food packaging on show

Visitors to the National Museum of Singapore can see the evolution of labels and packaging

The exhibition features vintage labels of several brands, as well as boxes and tin containers of well-known products.
The exhibition features vintage labels of several brands, as well as boxes and tin containers of well-known products.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Remember when Coca-Cola used to be sold in glass bottles? Or the old-school Khong Guan biscuit tins?

Food packaging of the past may bring back fond memories. This is what a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore - Packaging Matters: Singapore's Food Packaging Story From The Early 20th Century - aims to achieve. It runs from today till Sept 15.

The exhibition features a range of vintage food packaging from familiar brands, including drink bottles, tea boxes and cans.

Visitors will see how the designs of labels have evolved over time.

The exhibition, part of the Singapore Heritage Festival, also highlights the significance of sustainability in food packaging.

For instance, McDonald's popular Big Mac was served in a clam-shell polystyrene container from 1975.McDonald's started using paper containers in the 1990s and has continued to use them since.


    WHERE: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road

    WHEN: Today to Sept 15




There will be a sustainability area and family-friendly corner, showing three projects largely made from recycled materials contributed by home-grown eco-artist Didier Ng.

Mr George Huang, 69, managing director of Amoy Canning, which sells sauces and condiments, tells The Straits Times how the firm's products started off being packaged in clay jars. The packaging evolved to cans for easy shipping, then bottles and, finally, the plastic packaging of today.

Mr Huang, who is running the business started by his grandfather, says the company has come up with designs to reduce the amount of plastic used in the packaging.

The interactive exhibition will have audio-visual stations and "feely" boxes to create a sensory learning experience.

Exhibition curator Vidya Murthy, 54, says: "Each object here can tell many stories. It is not so much the commercial value of the object, but the significance and symbolism that these objects convey.

"We hope this exhibition gives visitors a fresh perspective of history through food, a topic close to many Singaporeans' hearts."

This opening weekend, there will be activities such as a food and craft market, a storytelling session by author Lianne Ong and live music performances. Children can also take part in an artefact hunt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'Vintage food packaging on show'. Subscribe