Bicentennial Experience closes, but parts of exhibition to remain on Fort Canning

Over 760,000 people visited The Bicentennial Experience, which opened its doors in May last year.
Over 760,000 people visited The Bicentennial Experience, which opened its doors in May last year.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - The Bicentennial Experience may have closed for good, but parts of it will remain on Fort Canning, while other parts, including historical materials, will be archived and stored.

This announcement was made by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, at the closing of the exhibition on Tuesday (Dec 31).

Speaking to media, he said: "The Bicentennial Experience has excited Singaporeans by the way it has presented history... so we're looking at how our permanent Singapore Story at the National Museum can incorporate new and different ways of presenting history to Singaporeans and visitors alike."

Segments of the exhibition that relate to Fort Canning will be retained at its present site, while other materials will be kept with relevant agencies and partners, said Mr Lee.

"This is so that (many) years from now, the next group of Singaporeans who are given the immense responsibility to commemorate the quarter millennial, or 300 years of Singapore will have materials to rely on," he said.

Over 760,000 people visited The Bicentennial Experience, which opened its doors in May last year, 95 per cent of whom were locals.

The exhibition told the story of the Singaporean identity through two segments.

An indoor portion featuring five acts, including the famous indoor rain display, looked at Singapore's history from 500 years before the arrival of the British in 1819 to where it is today.

An outdoor segment called Pathfinder also featured eight interactive pavilions and installations.

The final group of visitors to the exhibition on Dec 31 were given a special treat - a guided tour led by the show's creative directors, as well as goodie bags with merchandise.

A final light display was also put up at the Pathfinder exhibit, which lit up in silver, the colour of the Bicentennial DNA trait which visitors felt they identified with the most: Self-determination.

Over 234,000 people voted for this trait, putting it ahead of Multiculturalism, which received around 176,500 votes, and Openness, which over 130,000 visitors chose.

Visitors at The Bicentennial Experience on Dec 31, 2019. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The special additions to the exhibition left visitor Luis Ngan pleasantly surprised.

The 33-year-old relationship manager in a bank happened to come across The Bicentennial Experience while looking for things to do with his wife on New Year's Eve.

Mr Ngan, who was visiting the exhibition for the first time, said: "It was amazing, it turned out much better than I expected."

He said that he found the content of the exhibition easy to absorb, and felt it was a good way to learn about Singapore history.

"It's much better than reading a textbook - I'd definitely recommend it to others if something similar comes up in the future," he said.

Another visitor, Ms Jiang Yijing, 26, who works in logistics, and her boyfriend, consulting engineer Derek Hsu, 28, nearly missed the show.


Mr Hsu said he and Ms Jiang had booked tickets to the exhibition at least thrice earlier this year but had to cancel each time.

They decided that they had to make it to the final show, with Ms Jiang rushing to Fort Canning from the airport after returning from a flight.

And it was worth the rush, the pair agreed.

"I think it's a great way to end 2019," said Ms Jiang, who was previously a Chinese national and has been a Singapore citizen for the past five years or so.

She added: "It taught me about the hardships people went through to build up this country. It's very impressive."

Mr Hsu, who is Singaporean, said: "You get to see how Singapore has changed all the way from the past till now - at the end of it, you feel a sense of pride."