Treasured pieces

Life picks some key artefacts from National Museum of Singapore's new permanent galleries.

1 The Surrender Table, 1940s, on loan from the Australian War Memorial, teak

On Feb 15, 1942, the British surrendered unconditionally following the Japanese army's successful invasion of Malaya and Singapore, during which they covered more than 1,000km in slightly over eight weeks.

The General Officer Commanding Malaya, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival, signed the Instrument of Surrender document on this table in the boardroom of the Ford Factory in Bukit Timah Road.

During and after the war, this table continued to be used in the boardroom till 1964, when Ford Malaysia donated it to the Australian War Memorial.

The table is now on loan to the National Museum of Singapore by the Australian War Memorial for a year as a gesture of friendship rooted in deep historical ties between the two countries.

Where: Singapore History Gallery, Level 1

2 Replica Type 95 Ha Go Japanese Tank

The Type 95 Ha Go was the most common Japanese tank used during World War II. In terms of speed and manoeuvrability, it was as capable as a light tank on the Allied side.

The tank was equipped with a Mitsubishi diesel engine and armed with a 37mm gun and two 7.7 machine guns. During the battle for Singapore, these tanks reached Bukit Timah within a few days of the initial Japanese landing on the island.

This replica is one of four that was constructed for director Steven Spielberg's 2010 HBO epic mini- series titled The Pacific.

Where: Singapore History Gallery, Level 1

3 Elizabeth Choy's clothing, 1940s, gift of Elizabeth Choy

These clothes were worn by wartime heroine Elizabeth Choy during her detention, interrogation and torture after her arrest by the Japanese Kempeitai (military police) in 1943. She and her husband, Mr Choy Khun Heng, were jailed by the Japanese for helping British prisoners of war. She was released from the Kempeitai headquarters at the former YMCA building after about 200 days.

Born Yong Su-moi in Sabah in 1910, she came to Singapore to study in 1929 and started teaching in 1933, first at St Margaret's School and, later, St Andrew's School. After the war, she was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1951 and became Singapore's first woman legislator. She retired from politics in 1955 and returned to teaching. She died in 2006, at the age of 96.

Where: Singapore History Gallery, Level 1

4 A pair of wine decanters with eight cups, early 20th century, Singapore, glass, brass

Consisting of a pair of decanters and matching miniature cups, decorative glassware sets were popular in Peranakan homes at the turn of the 20th century. Considered a symbol of wealth, this serving set is mounted on a vine-like frame made of twisted brass. The handles and the sides of the frame are decorated with vine leaves and the cups can be hung from the hooks.

A grapevine motif has been applied to the set in glossy enamel paint.

Wine, port or similar liquids would have been slowly poured into the decanter to separate the sediment from the rest of the drink.

Where: Modern Colony, Level 2

5 Ladies' mesh purse, 1910, Singapore, silver

This delicate silver purse was made by skilled craftsmen out of interlocking rings assembled into meshwork.

Hung at waist level or held by the straps, such purses were favoured by Westernised Peranakan Chinese women, who commissioned silversmiths to make them.

The designs were inspired by Victorian-style purses from the early 1900s.

Where: Modern Colony, Level 2

6 Zoetrope

A zoetrope is a pre-film animation device that uses a sequence of images to create an illusion of movement. This one is inspired by hurdler and Singapore's first female Olympian Tang Pui Wah, who made it to the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.It depicts Ms Tang, now 82, passing the torch to two other Singapore Olympians Mary Klass, now 80, and Janet Jesudason, 79, thus highlighting the legacy of pioneer sportswomen in the 1950s.

Where: Growing Up Gallery, Level 2

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2015, with the headline 'Treasured pieces'. Subscribe