Arts and Crafts
The Jakarta Post -- WEEKENDER | Thu, 01/29/2009 8:40 PM |
Shame on you if you thought Singapore was only about shopping and food. Great museums – History! Art! Toys! – abound if you want to give the tired and tested retail and dining haunts a rest. Chan Hse May reports.
National Museum of Singapore (www.nationalmuseum.sg)
What: The oldest museum in Singapore reopened in December 2006 to much fanfare after a three-and-a-half year, S$132 million renovation. On top of an impressive façade, the 120-year-old stalwart on the arts scene now boasts two main galleries as well as its Gallery Theatre and Public Sculpture Garden. Get up to scratch with Singapore’s beginnings and its transformation to a modern city at the Singapore History Gallery.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Living Galleries offer a walk down memory lane from four all-important perspectives of Singapore life – food, fashion, film and photography – showcased through related artifacts and sound installations.
Where: 93 Stamford Road
Why you should go: The artifacts and exhibits should be reason enough, but if you need further prodding, the museum is also home to the swanky Novus restaurant which features a café, bar and outdoor dining in the museum’s lovely courtyard.
Opening hours: Singapore History Gallery: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily; Singapore Living Galleries: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily (free admission from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.)
Asian Civilisations Museum (www.acm.org.sg)
What: If you ever wondered how Singapore became the melting pot of cultures it is now, this is the best place for a look at the material cultures of early settlers originating from China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia. The museum, dedicated to pan-Asian history and cultures, is also the first of its kind in the region.
Where: 1 Empress Place
Why you should go: Far from a sleep-inducing history lesson, the museum features state-of-the-art display and interactive technologies spread over three levels in a series of thematic
galleries. The Singapore River gallery, for instance, offers an interesting perspective of early settlers’ lives on the banks of the Singapore River – a vital trading and commercial point during
the colonial era. Among the gallery’s displays are the excavated gems that range from luxurious 14th century Chinese ceramics to the simple implements of the coolies (laborers) who toiled on the river banks.
Opening hours: Mon 1 p.m. –7 p.m.; Tue–Sun 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Singapore Art Museum (www.singart.com)
What: Housed in a restored 19th century building that was once (mission school) St Joseph’s Institution, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is the best place to view the artworks of pioneer Singaporean artists such as Liu Kang, Georgette Chen and Chen Wen Hsi. SAM now boasts the world’s largest public collection of 20th century Singapore and Southeast Asian artworks, with more than 7,500 pieces.
Where: 71 Bras Basah Road (SAM); 8 Queen Street (8Q sam)
Why you should go: The recently opened new wing, 8Q sam, is pitched at younger audiences and will change your view of museums as stodgy and stuffy places. Impossibly hip and edgy, the new space, just a gander away (approximately 88 steps, actually) from the main SAM building, features contemporary art. Expect to see installation, video, performance and sound art at the four-story, six-gallery space.
Opening hours: Mon–Sun 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (free admission on Fri night, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.)
MINT Museum of Toys (www.emint.com)
What: One for the young and the young at heart, the MINT (Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys) Museum is the world’s first purpose-built museum for toys. Valued at more than S$5 million, the museum’s unique collection is the largest in Southeast Asia outside Japan, and boasts more than 50,000 pieces of vintage toys. MINT’s five-story building is a marvel in itself, its striking design having won international awards including The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design “International Architecture Awards” 2007.
Where: 26 Seah Street
Why you should go: Unless you’re a right grouch, this is one museum that’s bound to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. While more than half of the collection originates from Singapore, there are also toys and memorabilia from more than 25 countries. Tintin collectables, Disney toys, Batman, Popeye the Sailor, pre-war Japanese toys and more enjoy pride of place here. Even more amazing – all the knick knacks make up the painstaking lifetime collection of one toy-crazy 57-year-old Singaporean, Mr. Chang Yang Fa.
Opening hours: 9.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. daily