Sunday, December 03, 2006

2 Dec 2006: At the National Museum of Singapore

I have been waiting for about three years for the exhibition galleries of the National Museum of Singapore at Stamford Room to open its doors. Soon, my wait will be over.

Actually, several sections of the museum have been opened to members of the public some time ago, but I am waiting to view the Singapore History Gallery. I read that there will be a section on the ancient history of Singapore and I look forward to it.

Meantime, from 2 to 31 Dec 2006, a series of activities will be held at the National Museum of Singapore to mark its opening. More details of the National Museum of Singapore's Opening Festival can be found here:

On 2 Dec 2006, I count my blessings that I was able to be there to check out the museum in the afternoon. It turned out to be a trip that has evoked feelings of nostalgia for me.

The very building that houses the National Museum of Singapore used to house the Singapore History Museum a few years ago before the building underwent major renovations. I could still remember how the building had looked like several years ago.

Other than the Singapore Art Museum, the MPH building and the National Library that used to stand along Stamford Road, the Singapore History Museum was one of my favourite hang-outs during the years when I was a Junior-College student and an undergraduate. If I would like a place to pass my time back then, these would be the places that would come readily to my mind.

As I walked towards the side door that you see in the photo above, I recalled that the area outside the door used to be a courtyard several years ago. However, there were fences surrounding the perimeter of the courtyard back then. Reflecting, I would prefer the open-concept that the museum now adopts. The museum now has less fences, and if there were fences, those were quite discrete. I think the open-concept will help make the museum a more inviting place for everyone to visit.

I have a special liking for the Rotunda Dome of the museum. I love it when I see sunlight shining through the stained glass, lending the museum a nice and warm ambience. There is a history behind the stained glass of the Rotunda Dome as best as I can recall. Correct me if I were to be wrong, the fifty pieces of stained glass were meant to mark the Jubilee Year of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

The staircase that you see above also brought me memories. I remember when I was a young child, it took me quite a bit of effort to climb those stairs. Anyway, there was a delight to climb those stairs because doing so would make me feel like a Very Important Person since the stairs were covered with red carpet.

I remember the semi-circular structure in the photo above. There used to be seats placed near the structure and I would rest my feet there whenever my feet became tired from walking about the museum.

When I was there at the museum on 2 Dec 2006, I managed to catch glimpses of the roving performance by Cocoloco. The acoustics of the area where they had given their performance wasn't quite made for performances like theirs, and I had quite a bit of difficulties making out what they were saying with all the background noises around me. Otherwise, I found the performance quite amusing.

One of the fascinating part of my visit yesterday was to walk through the Glass Passage. This feature is new to the museum, but I found it a delightful addition. It allows visitors to admire the exterior of the Dome from within the museum itself. I would like to quote something from the museum's website on the Glass Passage: "The Glass Passage conveys the experience of viewing the old building in an art gallery setting".

What an ingenious concept!

As I walked about the museum, I could not help but peer through the windows to catch a glance of the neo-classical design of the building.

In the photo below, you would see a spiral narrow stairway. It reminded me of the adventures that I had taken while I was on the museum's night tours several years ago. I must have been on it at least thrice. My favourite part of the night tour was when participants were allowed to walk up to the roof-top of the museum via the narrow stairway. I didn't exactly like the chilling stories that were told during the night tours, but those stories certainly gave me a different experience of the museum. I shall keep my fingers crossed that the museum would organise similar night tours again.

Not all the galleries were ready on 2 Dec 2006, but I managed to get a chance to walk into two of the galleries. I went into two of the Singapore Living Galleries, namely: Film & Wayang, and Fashion.

Glove puppets

One of the multimedia presentations

To enhance the visitor's experience, multimedia is used appropriately to share with the visitors how life had been in the past. I enjoyed watching a multimedia presentation on the changing roles of women in Singapore.

After viewing the Singapore Living Galleries, I walked down to the ground level. I took a photo of the scene below. It just somehow reminded me of the gallery that I would usually start with when I used to visit the Singapore History Museum with friends.

Other than the Glass Passage, there are several new additions to the museum building. I like the Concourse which links the old section of the building with the new wings of the building.

The new sections of the building appeared to inject new elements to the museum, but I was too much in a world of nostalgia to be able to fully appreciate the new elements as yet. Nevertheless, it won't kill to take photographs of the new sections of the museum. Perhaps in time to come, I would form a kind of emotional attachment to the new sections of the museum as well?

The Glass Rotunda and the escalators leading to The Canyon

I did not get to walk into the Glass Rotunda on 2 Dec 2006, but I hope to get a chance to walk into it soon. I read from the museum's website that the Glass Rotunda was designed as a modern interpretation of the Rotunda Dome. I hope that there would be a guided tour soon that would lend me some insights to the architecture and design of the Glass Rotunda.

Escalators leading to the Atelier

Climb these stairs to go to the Atelier

View from the Atelier

View from Fort Canning Park

In order to relive the good old memories, I went walking back to the older wings of the museum building. I have a positive feeling that the museum will attract people from all walks of life to visit it and to re-experience history and heritage.

I shall visit the National Museum of Singapore again. Actually, I went back to the museum on the evening of 2 Dec 2006 to catch Hydromania with one of my good friends.

Meantime, may I invite readers of this post to share with me your memories and experiences with the National Museum of Singapore? I look forward to read about these. Thanks in advance.

The official website of the National Museum of Singapore is as follow for those who would like to find out more:


Anonymous said...

My memories of National Museum were bare. Previously called "Singapore's History Museum", my times visiting the place were during my school's excursions.

Many light years later, my interest has been renewed and I'm definitely excited about the opening.

Hydromania was a very fun performance. I expected the singing lady (who looked like Amy Lee from Evanescence from afar) to jump as part of the stunts. But no leh. :P


oceanskies79 said...

Hi Diane, thanks for sharing your experiences. I am thankful for those few school's excursions that took me to the museums for those excursions made me interested to visit the museums on my very own years later.

The lady for the Hydromania. I didn't expect her to jump because my gut feeling told me that she was not intended to steal the spurting man's show.