Wednesday, November 28, 2012

National Museum of Singapore

For some reason I haven't done a post on the National Museum of Singapore, even though we've been many times (we went with my parents and for my birthday, for instance). Most recently , we went a few weeks ago (pre-pneumonia). 

We planned to go hiking (thus I'm wearing shorts and sneakers: I am way too vain/self conscious to wear them in any other context. It's a little silly, but I am totally that mom wearing 2 inch high heels to the park), but then on our way to the park it started raining heavily. So a change of plan was required.

We started out in the permanent history gallery, which uses multimedia to take visitors through Singapore's past. It starts off with a 360-degree, multi-story video projection screen of one typical day in Singapore. 
Shots include newspapers being printed, migrant construction workers in action, people eating at hawker centres, container ships being processed, etc. It's probably my favorite thing in the exhibit: it's so rare to get a chance to see the industrial side of life, even though all modern society is based on this.
Then there's a self-guided tour (using audio guides). We skipped this (since we've heard it before and R wouldn't understand) and just admired the various artifacts. 
Oldest writing found in Singapore: sadly no one knows what the language is or how to read it
This is Sir Stamford Raffles, British aristocrat and founder of Singapore. They are really into him here.
I like the model opium den (opium was legal in Singapore until the mid-twentieth century, and a big part of life here at one time: rather ironic given their current drug laws).
If you tour the whole exhibit thoroughly, it takes a couple hours. So we adjourned to the park outside for a snack (which we'd brought as we were supposed to be hiking: the museum cafe is quite nice, though).
Having Annie's bunny cookies and craisins
I want to read this historical placard (because I am freaky) but R wants to make a dash for the nearby road
She got to run in the field instead. Yay!
Then we went back inside to the "Living Galleries", which focus on particular aspects of Singaporean culture. The one on local food and food customs (which we didn't visit this time) is particularly cool: you can even smell some of the most common spices used in local cuisine. There are others on fashion and photography.

Our favorite was the gallery on the local entertainment industries (where you can watch clips of old movies and listen to 1950s Singaporean pop music). 
Looks like a movie theatre!
R is enthralled listening to Malay pop
Old Chinese opera posters (the most popular entertainment of its day)
Opera costumes: each is designed to instantly identify the character's status and nature
(good vs. bad) to those who are familiar with the conventions
Elaborate headdresses, for the same purpose
Portable puppet stage (popular in Singapore until the mid 20th century)
The puppets, each an archetype (the one on the bottom left is a general, for instance).
Can you spot the rapist pig?
R loved this and was surprisingly tolerant of wearing the headphones for an extended period. We stayed until dinner time (the museum is conveniently open until 8 pm). 
R posing with the modern sculpture at the front entrance
\It's a good place to go for an overview of Singapore's history (though only up to independence: after that, nothing useful/interesting is said). The building (a historic one) is lovely and the location is convenient, right next to a park and the main business district. Definitely worth a visit!


  1. you are so good about showing her so much...P hasn't seen the inside of a museum. ever.

    1. Haha, it's not really "good", just selfish. I like museums and want to see them, so R gets dragged along. I am sure P doesn't regret it!