Glass rotunda at National Museum of Singapore will reopen in December with new works

Contemporary scenes of Singapore flashed onto the Glass Rotunda at the Singapore History Gallery in 2013.
Contemporary scenes of Singapore flashed onto the Glass Rotunda at the Singapore History Gallery in 2013.PHOTO: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - The National Museum of Singapore's glass rotunda will reopen on Dec 10 after a two-year-long revamp with two new permanent art installations themed around natural history.

The first work that visitors will encounter as they enter the rotunda is an immersive digital art installation by the renowned Japanese digital media collective, teamLab.

The work, titled Story Of The Forest, is a special commission by the museum and is inspired by the institution's William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings. The collection has 477 drawings in total.

Close to 70 drawings from the prized collection have been turned into animated illustrations that will interact with visitors as they make their way down the 80m-long spiral drum of the 15m-high rotunda.

At the foot of the rotunda, as one exits the space, is the workSingapore, Very Old Tree, by Singapore artist Robert Zhao. It comprises 17 images of trees in Singapore and the stories of people's connections to these plants.

The work is inspired by one of the oldest postcards in the National Archives of Singapore, which is dated 1904 and depicts an unspecified tree. It was commissioned as part of the Singapore Memory Project, a national movement launched in 2011 to document people's memories of Singapore, and it was exhibited at the National Library last May as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The new installations mark the first revamp of the rotunda since its launch in 2006 when the museum completed its major redevelopment and extension. Previously, a 360-degree video of life in a day in Singapore was projected in the rotunda space and it was set to an original musical score by composer Vladimir Martynov.

The new works also mark the completion of the museum's refurbishment of its permanent galleries that began in 2014.

The museum's director Angelita Teo says: "We are excited to reintroduce the glass rotunda to our visitors with two new installations that reference the museum's early collections history, and invite discourse and dialogue between the historical and the contemporary."

She adds: "Through both installations, we hope to offer our visitors new ways of looking at Singapore's history and culture."