Bicentennial Experience closes, but parts will remain at Fort Canning

Those who worked on and helped out at The Bicentennial Experience celebrating the end of the show with a bang at its final curtain call on New Year's Eve. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Those who worked on and helped out at The Bicentennial Experience celebrating the end of the show with a bang at its final curtain call on New Year's Eve. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The Bicentennial Experience may have closed for good, but parts of it will remain at 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.

Speaking to the 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. Of these, 95 per cent were Singaporean.

The final group of visitors were given a special treat - a guided tour led by the show's creative directors, as well as goody bags.

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

More than 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.

The special additions to the exhibition left visitor Luis Ngan pleasantly surprised. The 33-year-old relationship manager in a bank came 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 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 trip. And it was worth the rush, the pair said.

"I think it's a great way to end 2019," said Ms Jiang, who is from China and has been a Singapore citizen for the past five years.

She added: "It taught me about the hardships that 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Bicentennial Experience closes, but parts will remain at Fort Canning'. Print Edition | Subscribe