74,000 catch photo exhibition on Singapore's defining moments

A visitor reading captions at the We: Defining Stories photo exhibition, which will end on Sunday.
A visitor reading captions at the We: Defining Stories photo exhibition, which will end on Sunday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

More than 74,000 visitors have seen the We: Defining Stories photo exhibition over the past four months.

The showcase, put together by the National Museum of Singapore and The Straits Times, is coming to the end of its run on Sunday and was hailed a success by museum director Angelita Teo.

Ms Teo said feedback has been positive and shows that the hundreds of photographs defining Singapore's history from 1950 to 2013 have struck a chord with people from all walks of life.

In addition to stirring memories, they have sparked discussion and served as a reminder that as a people, "our stories, hopes and dreams are intricately and beautifully intertwined".

The showcase, featuring photos from the newspaper's and museum's archives, has six sections: Merdeka ("freedom" in Malay), Home, Challenges, Heroes, So Singaporean and Our Stories. They include dramatic images of survivors being pulled out of the Hotel New World collapse in 1986, a striking shot of the hijacked Singapore Airlines Flight SQ117 in 1991 before Singapore Armed Forces Commandos stormed the plane, and heartrending scenes from the 2003 Sars crisis.

Exhibition visitors have been asked to pick the photo that left the deepest impression on them.

One of the most popular images is of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew making a teary announcement of Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965.

Another crowd favourite was a shot of a packed Workers' Party rally in Hougang Central during the 2011 General Election. It was taken by The Straits Times deputy photo editor Wang Hui Fen, 42. Shot from a 10-storey vantage point, it captured the estimated 15,000-strong crowd that night.

Results of the poll will be revealed at a later date.

Singapore Polytechnic student Peh Ting Yong, 20, who visited the exhibition last month, said: "It showed both the joyous and challenging moments of how Singapore was built up by our forefathers. The selected photos were striking as they captured the varying expressions of some key players in our history."

Through The Straits Times Appreciates Readers programme, hundreds of readers also attended talks by the paper's veteran journalists and photojournalists.

We: Defining Stories will travel to libraries islandwide from next year.

The museum's curator Priscilla Chua said there is still time to catch the exhibition this weekend, adding: "As Singapore approaches its 50th year of independence... it is especially poignant for us to remember the moments in our history that were happy, sad, bittersweet and also the ones which made us laugh and reflect."

melodyz@sph.com.sg