Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore

20 July 2018 – 24 February 2019
10.00am – 9.00pm
Level 10, Gallery
National Library Building
Free admission

Advertisements are fascinating cultural documents that both shape and reflect people’s desires and ideals. This exhibition features advertising materials from the 1830s to 1960s in the National Library collection, and explores the hopes, dreams, aspirations and insecurities of society over the years.

Modelled after a department store, the exhibition highlights advertisements promoting a myriad of products, services and brands that once saturated Singapore’s busy consumer market. Through this colourful showcase of the National Library’s rare publications, magazines, newspapers and ephemera, you will gain a deeper understanding of advertising and its impact on society, while learning more about Singapore’s past.

Click below to download the exhibition brochure and guide.

The Art of Persuasion

20 July 2018 – 24 February 2019
10.00am – 9.00pm
Level 10, Lobby

National Library Building
Free admission

How do advertisers hook an audience? ‘The Art of Persuasion’ looks at different advertising methods and strategies used in ads drawn from the library’s vast collection of print publications from the 1830s to 1960s. Head down to the National Library’s ‘advertising studio’ in the lobby and check out ads featuring comics and cartoons, witty copy, bold imagery and illustrations as well as early advertising attempts to appeal to local audiences.

A micro exhibition of the same title will be travelling to the following Public Libraries:

  •  Ang Mo Kio Public Library: 9 Jul – 26 Aug 2018 
  • Woodlands Regional Library: 27 Aug – 21 Oct 2018 
  • Clementi Public Library: 22 Oct – 16 Dec 2018 
  • Sengkang Public Library: 17 Dec 2018 – 10 Feb 2019
  • Library@Harbourfront: 11 Feb 2019 – 21 Mar 2019

Join us as we uncover the nation’s early years through advertising paraphernalia from the National Library’s rich collection.

School Tours

Set in a shopping scene in the early 20th century, students and teachers will experience a taste of life in Singapore from the colonial era to the 1960s. Singapore’s social history and businesses, in particular, will be featured through a selection of advertisements from newspapers and other publications. Worksheets for students will also be provided.

Interested schools can email for more details. Book early to secure a tour slot!

The National Library’s collection contains more information available on several of the brands and companies featured in Selling Dreams. Browse through these pages on branding history to discover more resources pertaining to brands and their history in Singapore.