Sunday, November 05, 2006

Culture Clubbin' at Malay Heritage Centre

On 4 Nov 06, I was at Sultan Mosque to check out the Singapore Biennale 2006 exhibits there. The Malay Heritage Centre was within walking distance away. As such, I was able to kill two birds with one stone, and visit these two places on the same day.

There was a special event: Culture Clubbin' at the Malay Heritage Centre that day. The event was the Explore Singapore! Opening Special.

I particularly like the outdoor landscapes of the Malay Heritage Centre. It has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Kampong Glam area. It was no surprise when I realised that I have captured quite a number of shots of its beautiful landscapes.

I had to wait for the sun to move a little before I can get Sultan Mosque to appear visible in the background.

The volume of the music at the event was too loud for my ears. I could only try to cope but trying to be as unresponsive to the rest of the world as possible. I had ear plugs with me but decided that it was too much of a hassle to have them put on. Personally, I think the music did not quite suit the landscapes of the Malay Heritage Centre. However, it seemed to be quite appropriate for the street art exhibition held in conjunction with the event. I might have been able to bear with the music if it were much softer in volume.

Since I was there, I decided to check out the Malay Heritage museum and Twin Exhibition featuring Bugis & Johor-Riau-Lingga Star Exhibits. I had visited the museum about a year ago, and I felt quite disappointed yesterday as I did not notice much major improvements in the exhibits since my last visit.

Nevertheless, there were good things about the museum that kept my disappointments to the minimal. I felt pleased to see a photo of the previous Sultan Mosque that was completed completed in 1826, with its double-tiered roof. I quite like the multi-media interactive station found in the gallery describing the past of Kampong Glam. In the museum, there stood a replica of a room of a kampung house on stilts. It was nothing new to me, but it still felt nice to walk into it.

In general, I felt that while there was much historic value behind each of the exhibits and collections, there was a lack of substantial historical research to weave together the story behind the historically significant Istana Kampong Gelam (now known as the Malay Heritage Centre) and the rest of Kampong Glam area. I felt that I was merely entering a gallery housing a collection of items from the past, but I did not gain much insights to the rich past and heritage of the Kampong Glam area and its community. Anyway, the beautiful outdoor landscapes helped make up for the disappointments that I had felt.

The temporary exhibition, the Twin Exhibition, has a fairly good collection of important artefacts. However, I felt there was a lack of information to educate novice like myself on how to appreciate the cultural and historical significance of these artefacts. As such, while I was aware that those artefacts were important and priceless, I left the exhibition gaining almost little insight to the cultural heritage of the Bugis and the Johor-Riau-Lingga period.

If I were asked to give a feedback, I would suggest that the museum organise regular guided-tours to guide visitors to the exhibits in the museum. This may help make visitors' visit more enriching and meaningful. Perhaps the guides of the guided tours could be volunteers who have lived in Kampong Glam for many years. What better ways to learn about the heritage of Kampong Glam and the community there than to hear these from these folks?

Hopefully, there could be more donors to this centre, and perhaps with more funds, the Malay Heritage Centre could have enough resources to engage researchers to conduct in-depth research on the history of Kampong Glam and the heritage of the various communities that live or had lived in this area.

The museum does not permit digital photography within its premises. As such, I only had the permission to take a photograph of the above exhibit which permitted photography. I like the striking colours of this exhibit.

After visiting the museum, I checked out the street art exhibition that was part of the Culture Clubbin' event. In addition, I was quite attracted to the signboards below. I like the lines, they look cool!

Yet, I still like the outdoor landscapes so much better.

I was particularly fascinated by the thatched roofs that I saw on a few of the structures.

Closed-up of a thatched roof.

When I was at the Malay Heritage Centre, there was some private function at the nearby Gedung Kuning, and I could not help but like its bright yellow walls.

I left the Malay Heritage Centre fairly early. As such, I had missed the performance by Mak Yong Kedek. Before I had left the Malay Heritage Centre, I had overheard the members of Mak Yong Kedek rehearsing at the backyard, and they sound very good. Good rhythms and an infectious zest.

A few fellow bloggers had the good fortune to catch Mak Yong Kedek's performance, and they have blogged about their experience at Culture Clubbin'. Check out their posts:
- Culture Clubbed at MHC by Toycon.
- Getting into the Rhythm by Tym.

There are more events lining up as part of the Explore Singapore! Campaign (Nov 06 - Jan 07). For information, please check out:

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