National Heritage Board launches new exhibition telling tales of Singapore's 70 islands

Visitors attend Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Visitors attend Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Visitors attend Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Visitors attend Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - The Republic is a popular island destination, but a lesser known fact is that it was actually made up of not just one, but more than 70 islands.

Many of them have been lost due to extensive land reclamation works over the decades, but their heritage is not gone forever.

A new exhibition, entitled Balik Pulau: Stories from Singapore's Islands at the National Museum of Singapore, will be the first to tell the tales of the isles of long-ago.

Launched by the National Heritage Board on Tuesday morning, the exhibition is divided into nine sections, each representing individual islands or clusters.

These include well-known islands such as St John's Island and rugged Pulau Ubin, both of which are popular day trip destinations; as well as their lesser-known counterparts, like Pulau Sakeng - once a thriving community of the nomadic orang selat (people of the Straits), and now a landfill.

Visitors can expect to find exhibits such as video interviews, archival images, historic boats, personal mementoes, marine life specimens and musical instruments of old.

There is also a Projection Room with a slideshow focusing on forgotten and vanished islands, with recordings of the names of the more than 70 islands that make up Singapore's past and present.

Island clusters, such as "Island Schools" and "Islands of Coral", will also give visitors insight into Singapore's past educational and underwater landscapes.

While rich in culture and social memory, many of the islands changed after Singapore gained independence in 1965, as nearly all inhabitants resettled on the mainland.

Ms Angelita Teo, director of the National Museum of Singapore, said: "This is the first time that the National Museum is exploring the heritage of Singapore's many islands in such detail.

"Although the islands are small in size, their stories are anything but that."

The exhibition is located at the Stamford Gallery of the National Museum of Singapore, level one.

It will run until August 10, from 10am to 6pm daily. Admission is free.