National Museum of Singapore celebrates 130th anniversary this weekend

The celebrations will run from Oct 13 to 15, from 10am to 10pm daily, and include everything from special tours and an artisanal retro market to live music performances.
The celebrations will run from Oct 13 to 15, from 10am to 10pm daily, and include everything from special tours and an artisanal retro market to live music performances.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Party on the front lawn of the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) as a concrete mixer truck covered in glass panels rotates to becomes a giant disco ball bathing the surrounding buildings in light and music this weekend.

The installation called La Betonniere Boule A Facettes by French artists Benedetto Bufalino and Benoit Deseille is part of a series of five art installations in and around the museum by various artists, as part of its 130-year anniversary celebrations.

The celebrations will run from Oct 13 to 15, from 10am to 10pm daily, and include everything from special tours and an artisanal retro market to live music performances. Some installations, such as the disco concrete mixer, will run until Oct 22.

The museum, which is the oldest in Singapore, started off as the Raffles Library and Museum and was opened on Oct 12, 1887 by the governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Frederick Weld. It even survived the Japanese Occupation, when it was renamed Syonan Museum and still used as a museum.

A commemorative gift set has been produced to mark the occasion.

Shaped like a large red leather-bound book, it opens up to reveal reproductions of 35 photographs, six postcards and nine building plans that show the museum's evolution. Some of these items have been published for the first time.

"The earliest photos in the collection are ones of the laying of the foundation stone, and the original facade of the museum - it was much smaller than it is today," explains curator Daniel Tham, 36, who worked on selecting the images that were reproduced for the box set.

One of the photographs is that of the skeleton of an Indian fin whale that was on display in the museum at various locations from 1907 until the early 1970s, which Mr Tham notes that the older generation will probably remember. The set retails at $60 at the MUSEUM LABEL shop at the ground floor of the museum, but until the end of this year (Dec 31) it will retail at a special price of $50.

 

This weekend, visitors also get the chance to go on a personal, hour-long guided tour by NMS director Angelita Teo who has been with the museum for 15 years. She was first involved in the museum's $132.6 million redevelopment project in 2002 that involved the construction of its extension building, and was appointed director in 2013. Tour participants will get to go behind the scenes and view spaces not accessible to the public.

There are also various tours by the NMS' curators, where you can learn how galleries are put together. Alternatively, go on tours with the museum's docents. Visit nationalmuseumsg.peatix.com or dramatisedtour.peatix.com to register for the tours.

Also revisit the Story Of The Forest interactive art installation at the Glass Rotunda, which has been in place since December last year. This time, visitors will be able to smell flowers and the forest, with scents provided by fragrance and flavour company Givaudan, as they move from section to section within the space.

Kids have not been left out either. PRESENCE Pictures Playscape, meant for children aged four to 12, lets them create virtual reality worlds through drawings that can be converted to animations. The 45-minute programme can house five to seven children at one time and costs $35 per child. Register at www.presence.pictures.

Catch music performances by the likes of Majesty, which comprises veteran rocker Hanafie Warren and a backing band made up of members of Helter Skelter and Rockers, as well as a flea market that includes car boot sales of new and vintage items by Retro Factory.