Shaped as a handscroll, this armrest is decorated with a crossed pattern of flowers, a design also seen on textiles and lacquer of the same date. Patterns in cloisonne enamel are formed by wires that separate colours composed of melted glass.
RIVERFRONT ENTRANCE AND TERRACE
The new entrance opens out onto a public terrace that leads down to the Singapore River promenade. The welcoming and prominent entry establishes the museum as a key presence along the revitalised river and a landmark on the Jubilee Walk, which winds through the Civic District and will be launched on Nov 29. The titanium-clad glass structure also opens up the museum's interiors to a view from the waterfront, making it more inviting.
On the motivation behind the change, the museum's director, Dr Alan Chong, says: "The museum needed to open itself up more. Previously, there was just one entrance and there was a wing along the river, but it was completely occupied by a restaurant and people didn't associate it with the rest of the museum."
The extension reorients the museum towards the waterfront, emphasising the building's historic relationship to its location. A former government building, it has stood at the mouth of the river since Singapore's beginnings in the 19th century as a port city.
KHOO TECK PUAT GALLERY
This permanent gallery anchors the single-storey wing and its location, steps away from the waterfront, resonates with the Tang Shipwreck collection on display. The shipwreck was found off Belitung Island in the Java Sea in 1998 with an impressive cargo of 60,000 pieces of ceramics produced in China during the Tang dynasty, as well as gold and silver objects. The collection was acquired with the help of the estate of Khoo Teck Puat, in honour of the late business tycoon. More than 500 pieces of the cargo will be on display.
The museum's curator of South-east Asia, Dr Stephen Murphy, says the shipwreck points to how Singapore sits within a region that "lay at the heart of a global trading network in the ninth century" and how its success as a hub of global trade today "has ancient roots".
He adds: "The collection itself is one of the most important worldwide, with regard to Tang ceramics and global trade in the ninth century, and it is now accessible to the public and scholars for many generations to come."
Adding to the experience of the gallery are the many circular skylights that bathe the precious artefacts with daylight and allow their exquisite craftsmanship to shine. The Tang Shipwreck can also be experienced through a virtual-reality mobile app that allows the user to step into the shoes of a member of the ship's crew or those of a marine archaeologist recovering the cargo. The app can be downloaded for free from Saturday from the App Store and Google Play.
CAFE AND RESTAURANT
The two new food-and-beverage outlets, operated by the Prive Group, will allow the museum to widen its appeal as a lifestyle destination. The cafe, Prive, offers affordable all-day dining including items such as eggs benedict ($16) and seafood laksa ($15), while Empress, which opens at the end of the month, is a fine-dining Cantonese restaurant with an outdoor bar.
ARTEFACTS ON SHOW
Square dish with swastika, southern China, around 830s, gold