Dose up on culture at the National Museum of Singapore!
Thanks to the #sghaze, we’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time indoors. I despise malls so I’ve taken to exploring the many museums here. This past weekend, we visited The National Museum of Singapore’s re-opened permanent galleries: the Singapore History Gallery, the Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years galleries, and the Goh Seng Choo gallery.
Level One’s Singapore History gallery charts the history of the island from 1299 to present day [Singapura (1299 to 1818), Crown Colony (1819 to 1941), Syonan-To (1942 to 1945) and Singapore (1946 to present)]. Level Two’s Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years. These two galleries house over 1,700 artifacts (40 percent of which are on display for the first time), from the Singapore Stone, to a fully operational replica of a Japanese tank used in World War II, to a three-speed bicycle Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received as an 11th birthday present from his paternal grandmother.
There was a bell gifted by Maria Revere Balestier, wife of Joseph Balestier, for whom Balestier Road is named, was the first American Consul to Singapore, to the first Church of Saint Andrew (now Saint Andrew’s Cathedral) in 1843. The bell was cast by a foundry associated with her father, Paul Revere. There are only 23 surviving Revere bells and this bell is the only one outside the United States.
However, she was keen to traipse around interactive recreations of an early twentieth century opium den, a 1960s Housing Board flat, and the Jurong Drive-in Cinema, where she sat in a “car” under a ceiling of “stars” and watched a movie of 1970s Singapore nostalgia.
I love botanical and zoological illustrations, so my personal highlight was the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings at Level Two’s Goh Seng Choo gallery. Farquhar, Singapore’s first Resident and Commandant from 1819 to 1823, commissioned unidentified Chinese artists to illustrate plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and insects found in Malacca and Singapore.
I was enchanted by the galleries’ “scent stations,” Singapore smells produced by a perfume company for the museum, such as “Polluted Singapore River” in the Singapore History Gallery to “Afternoon Tea” in the Modern Colony Gallery. And the stations prompted us to, once the #sghaze has lifted, find the other scents (petrichor, breadflower, tembusu) in the real world!
The National Museum of Singapore is open from 10am to 7pm (last admission 6:30pm) daily. Admission is free for Citizens, Permanent Residents, and visitors ages 6 years and below. All others are $10.00, and students and seniors 60+ (with valid ID) are $5.00.
Tickets include admission to all permanent galleries and exhibitions, and are available from the National Museum Visitor Services counter and SISTIC.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, www.nationalmuseum.sg