Tour of Museums: National Museum of Singapore (A Photo Essay)

An impressive architectural landmark, the National Museum of Singapore boasts of being the oldest among Singapore's museums, as well as its flagship museum.

IF there is one cultural landmark you owe yourself to see in Singapore, make it the National Museum of Singapore (NMS). Originally called the Raffles Museum, named after the first governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the NMS, an impressive architectural sprawl in cream built in the neo-Palladian tradition, gained its present name after Singapore won independence from the British in 1965.

The NMS sits on an 18,400 sqm of prime space between Stamford and Fort Canning Roads.

A three-year renovation that was started in 2003 swelled the original museum to twice its size, and its reopening in 2006 allowed for some spectacular refurbishments to the structure, including a rotunda dome lined by titanium-zinc based coated fish-scales.

Many a prenuptial photo have been shot under the domed rotunda of the NMS entrance. In this art installation by Lim Sing Ee, entitled "A Dozen of Those," 13 red balloons are held by faceless brown figures sitting on a brown boulder.

NMS adopts cutting-edge approach to museum-going through a multi-media and multi-sensory approach: a Companion at the entrance is just a first in the many innovations one sees inside the Singapore History Gallery. On entering, a circular pathway takes one to a dark empty circular room, where panels of LCDs flash a montage of images from contemporary Singapore, piped-in symphony adding to the drama.

Called the Companion, this handheld device was particularly useful for making sense of the Events and Personal Paths.

The Singapore History Gallery covers 700 years of Singapore history beginning with Temasek and the Singapore Stone, a relic believed to be from the 10th-14th century, and ending with New Nation whose highlights come from scenes in World War II. The biggest of the 3 galleries–the 2 others being the Singapore Living Galleries (composed of mini-galleries Film and Wayang, Fashion, Food and Photography Galleries) and the Goh Seng Choo Gallery–the Singapore History Gallery is custodian of 11 national treasures.

A view of the floor below, with the 8 swinging red chandeliers, an art installation called "Contours of a Rich Manoeuvre" by Suzann Victor, running across the length of the IGlass passage.

Truly, one comes away with an incomparable museum experience!

Entitled "20 Tonnes" by Han Sai Por, this series of stone monoliths is one of the six permanent installations found outside the NMS.

The NMS is at 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897. It may be reached via Bras Basah or Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations but expect to walk a little. City Hall MRT is OK too but the walk is a little longer. What we did was take the SBS bus which deposited us in front of the Singapore Management University (SMU), then cross the street. Entrance is free, but only on Fridays, starting at 7pm, also for certain individuals, like the elderly and children; for everyone else, expect to pay SGD 10. ^_^

Gems from the Musee d'Orsay, now till February



Visitor Services Guide. August 2011.

“National Museum of Singapore.”


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