Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum Opens!

The Lee Kong Chian Naural History Museum.

On 18 April 2015, the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM), Singapore's first and only natural history museum was officially opened by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore and Chancellor of NUS! It is the day that many of us have been waiting for: the opening of Singapore's natural history museum.

This wall greets all visitors at the main entrance of the LKCNHM.

What has eventually led to the establishment of this very natural history museum is in my humble opinion a series of meaningful coincidences, i.e. synchronicity. The core collection of this museum also has a very intriguing story to tell.

Dr Kevin Tan's Of Whales and Dinosaurs.

Dr Kevin Tan's book, Of Whales and Dinosaurs: The Story of Singapore's Natural History Museum, reveals the heartwarming story of the creation of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and how individuals have came together and overcame the odds to protect our natural history heritage. The book also traces the story of the Zoological Collection which forms the core of the collection at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

This is one of my favourite items on display at the LKCNHM.
A beautiful design to acknowledge the generosity and kindness of the founding benefactors of the museum.

Do you remember?
To jolt your memory, do you remember a time in 2009 when the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research took part in the International Museum Day 2009?

A more spacious Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum compared to its predecessor,
the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

I recall reading from news feeds that the response was overwhelming when the museum opened its doors on 24 May 2009 for the above-mentioned occasion. Subsequently, I vaguely recall that a member of the public wrote to The Straits Times' Forum page highlighting the lack of space and the inaccessibility of the museum's location. The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research's predicaments were made known publicly.

A link to the museum's past. LKCNHM.

A series of events followed and these culminated in the decision to build Singapore's permanent natural history museum. In view of the substantial support of the Lee Foundation, it was eventually decided that the new museum would be named the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, after the founder of the Lee Foundation.

A trio of diplodocid sauropod dinosaur fossils, Prince, Apollonia and Twinky,
on display at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The museum that is made possible because people care enough for our natural history
I did not quite follow all the related news yet I recalled there were an overwhelming number of members of the general public pledging our support to establish Singapore's own natural history museum. Subsequently, there was a call for donation to purchase of the fossils of a family of three diplodocid sauropod dinosaurs. In essence, the natural history museum that we now know as the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is a museum that is endorsed and supported by the people.

A photo that was taken on 16 Jan 2013.
The plot of land where the Estate Office had vacated is now the site of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Anticipating the opening of LKCNHM
The work on building the museum began in January 2013. Since then, every time when I visit my alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS), I will look at the plot of land where the Estate Office had vacated, anticipating the eventual opening of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is nearby the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and the NUS Museums.

The day that I have been waiting for has come. Thanks to N. Sivasothi, I was referred to write in to Prof Peter Ng, Head of LKCNHM, to request for permission to be granted a preview of the museum. My request was granted! Dr Joelle Lai was my host for the visit. I am thankful to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for granting my request.

Apollonia. LKCNHM.

A preview of the LKCNHM
It brings me much pleasure to share a preview of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum from my visit on its opening day. The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum will be opened to the public from 28 Apr 2015, Tuesday, 10.00 a.m.

Section on Plants: Specimens of plants were preserved by mounting them on individual herbarium sheets.

The Biodiversity
As a guest walked into the first level of the museum, he will embark on a journey to experience biodiversity of life forms on Earth, with a focus on native and Southeast Asian flora and fauna. Some of the highlights, according to the museum's brochure, include the slice of the Changi Tree, the Sea Mouse, the Mosaic Reef Crab, the Orange-spotted Grouper, the Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel and the Golden Babirusa. I was simply fascinated with the extensive collection! There are such much to discover at Level 1 of the museum that I think a regular visitor will be willing to make repeated visits to the museum.

A slice of the Changi Tree.
Learn about the ill-fate of this tree during your visit to the museum.

Section on Mammals: Can you find the Golden Babirusa and the Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel?

The Heritage
For the visitors who prefer to delve into the museum's nostalgic past and discover the museum's history and Singapore's geology, they will set themselves on their preferred journey by walking up the stairways to the next level of the museum.

Take the stairways up. LKCNHM.

Historically, the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum inherited its natural history collection from its predecessor, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (established in 1998) whereby one part of its two main collection of specimens was that of the Zoological Reference Collection (formally opened on 31 October 1988). The Zoological Reference Collection stems from the original Raffles Museum which was renamed the National Museum of Singapore in 1965.

Leatherback Sea Turtle. LKCNHM.

My host for the visit specifically pointed me to the specimens of the Leatherback Sea Turtle and the Wallace's Asian Brown Flycatcher. The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest extant turtle species in the world. The very specimen in the museum is the only recorded sighting of this species in Singapore. Visit the museum and find out where and when it was caught. The latter, the Wallace's Asian Brown Flycatcher was part of Alfred Russel Wallace's collection. Learn more about Wallace's visits to Singapore and how his visits to this region has contributed to his conception of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wallace's Asian Brown Flycatcher. LKCNHM.

The Lee Kong Chian Natural Museum History is the museum for the general public, the scientists and students to appreciate and learn about the biodiversity of the Southeast Asia region over time.

Visiting the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum yet again
I have already booked the ticket to my next visit to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. While the museum will only be opened to the public from 28 April 2015, 10.00 a.m., sales of the tickets to the museum are already available online! I have made my date with the dinosaurs once again. Have you? You can book your tickets here:

Visitors' Information
Please take note that there will be no sale of ticket at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. Admission to the museum is strictly by session timing only. This is to facilitate a conducive viewing experience. It is recommended that visitors to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum could purchase and collect your ticket at your preferred SISTIC outlet before your visit to the museum. NUS students and staff can apply for complimentary tickets to the museum.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
National University of Singapore
2 Conservatory Drive
Singapore 117377

News from LKCNHM:

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, including public holidays
10 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (six sessions of 1.5 hours)
Last admission at 5.30 p.m.
All visits must be pre-booked through SISTIC

Note: The time limit of each ticket is an administrative guideline for the sale of tickets to control the crowd in the 2000 sqm exhibition space. Guests would not be turned away the minute their ticket's time limit runs out.

Organized groups that require guided tours can email
Separate fees will apply for guided group tours.

Standard Admission Rate:
Adult: S$20 each
Child (3 - 12 years old): S$12 each

There is a discounted local rate for Singapore citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents:
Resident rate for adult: S$15 each
Resident rate for child, student, senior citizen, full-time national serviceman, person with disabilities: S$8 each.

Tickets can be purchased via SISTIC.

NUS students and staff can apply for complimentary tickets via subject to the availability of tickets.

Note: The price of the admission ticket excludes SISTIC booking fee.

Nearest MRT stations: Kent Ridge (Circle Line), Clementi (East-West Line)

Bus services: 96, 151
The NUS internal shuttle bus service D2 (loop service) will ply between the Kent Ridge MRT station and the LKCNHM. Please take note that frequency of this internal shuttle bus service can vary from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the time of the day and whether the date of visit is during the academic semester.

The museum is relatively dry due to humidity and temperature control. Visitors could consider keeping themselves adequately hydrated before and after their visit to the museum.

Do visit The Museum Shop. Copies of Dr Kevin Tan's Of Whales and Dinosaurs: The Story of Singapore's Natural History Museum are available for sale there. Get yourself or a loved one a souvenir if this could help make your visit even more complete.

The Museum Shop. LKCNHM.

In the meantime, please stay tuned to the blog-report of my next visit to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Please also watch this video by Channel NewsAsia Singapore, A Night At The Museum. Dawn Tan spends a night at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which opens to the public on 28 April 2015. I think it is well-produced.

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