Step back in time at the revamped Chinatown Heritage Centre

Members of the public seen outside the facade of the rejuvenated Chinatown Heritage Centre.
Members of the public seen outside the facade of the rejuvenated Chinatown Heritage Centre. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
A Family of Eight - The former Painter's Cubicle that gave a glimpse of a typical family life in the shophouse is updated to feature a different family.
A Family of Eight - The former Painter's Cubicle that gave a glimpse of a typical family life in the shophouse is updated to feature a different family.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
An authentic recreation of a tailor shop, typical of those that used to line Pagoda Street during the 1950s-1980s.
An authentic recreation of a tailor shop, typical of those that used to line Pagoda Street during the 1950s-1980s. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mr Razeen Chan, manager for Research and Consultancy, Singapore History Consultants, showing the media the gallery that celebrates Chinatown of the 1960s where mock-ups of the street market, heritage shops and the hive of activities along the five-fo
Mr Razeen Chan, manager for Research and Consultancy, Singapore History Consultants, showing the media the gallery that celebrates Chinatown of the 1960s where mock-ups of the street market, heritage shops and the hive of activities along the five-foot way present stories and artefacts of a grittier Chinatown. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
A new gallery where visitors can trace the physical transformation of Chinatown and the personal memories and takes behind the modern facade.
A new gallery where visitors can trace the physical transformation of Chinatown and the personal memories and takes behind the modern facade. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - In an animated light show, a model junk boat lurching through perilous waves captures the hellish journey Chinese immigrants took to get to Singapore.

The display is part of the newly revamped Chinatown Heritage Centre in three three-storey shophouses at 48 Pagoda Street.

First opened in 2002, it was revamped to rectify maintenance issues and to update its showcases. Owned by the Singapore Tourism Board, the attraction underwent a rejuvenation exercise in October 2014. It reopens to the public on Friday afternoon (Jan 8).

Comprising six galleries, the centre's interactive and immersive features include ambient soundscapes, audio clippings, and olfactory displays of opium, traditional Chinese medicine and spices.

The narrative kicks off with a re-creation of a tailor shop, similar to those that lined Pagoda Street from the 1950s to the 1980s. Visitors will also be able to learn about the experiences of a trishaw rider, carpenter, hawker, samsui woman and clog maker.

There is also a section on clan associations and the role they played in supporting migrants.

Streetscapes such as market scenes of pangolins and snakes being hawked, and a roadside bookshop have been recreated as well.

One gallery captures Chinatown of the 1960s - when it was grittier and home to night entertainment establishments such as the Southern Hotel and Lai Chun Yen and a network of death houses that used to line Sago Lane.

Another gallery is dedicated to six personalities of the Chinatown community today. They include Ms Tina Tan, 40, the chief executive officer of local beef noodle chain Hock Lam Beef which her great-grandfather started.

Run by a consortium comprising the Singapore River Cruise, Journeys, and Splash Entertainment, tickets from now till Jan 27 will cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. Senior citizens enter free if they are accompanied by a paying visitor.

Prices will go up to $15 for adults, $11 for children and $3 for seniors accompanied by a paying visitor after the official launch on Jan 28.

The centre will also house an event space, a retail section and food establishment Old Chang Kee's Curry Times.