Mother of two eager to join Tiger Year hongbao hunt at Singapore museums

Ms Chanel Chai is hooked on collecting the hongbaos after taking part in the event last year. PHOTO: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

SINGAPORE - She could not make her usual trek home to celebrate Chinese New Year with her family last year due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, and to cheer her up, friends here suggested she go about collecting the unique set of red packets offered in the National Heritage Board (NHB) Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign.

Ms Chanel Chai, a Malaysian, took up the challenge and is now hooked.

Speaking to The Straits Times on Wednesday (Jan 5), the 49-year-old housewife said: "I can't wait for this year's mission to collect them all."

The NHB introduced the eighth iteration of the Musuem Roundtable hongbao campaign at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall on Wednesday.

For this year, the campaign, which started in 2011, will run from Jan 7 to Feb 4. Those interested can visit 35 participating museums to collect a set of eight red packets designed by Emily Luo, a local Instagram artist.

Chinese New Year Day this year will be on Feb 1, with Feb 2 also a public holiday.

The Museum Roundtable was established by the NHB in 1996 to promote a museum-going culture among Singaporeans, and to position museums here as unique cultural destinations. More than 60 public and private museums and heritage galleries are part of the roundtable.

Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's deputy chief executive (policy and community), said on Wednesday: "The campaign has succeeded beyond expectations and, each time, all red packets are fully redeemed.

"The public's response has been great, and we even have collectors from across the Causeway. They have a strategy to collect as many as possible – form groups, fan out to different museums, then trade among themselves to complete their collections."

The limited edition red packets are themed according to the 35 participating museums, heritage institutions and galleries. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

Around 19,000 sets of eight red packets will be available across the 35 participating institutions this year and each visitor will be entitled to one set per museum/gallery.

Ms Chai, a mother of two who is married to a Singaporean safety officer, said last year's experience collecting the red packets was rewarding.

"I could not go back to Johor Baru to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family and I had a lot of free time. My friends told me about this hongbao campaign, so I decided to check it out.

"It has been a rewarding experience going around to collect the different designs. I had to trade one of my spares to collect the full set of 32. I have all of them displayed and framed up, and it looks beautiful," she said.

This year's designs are based on the Tiger, the zodiac animal for the new Chinese calendar year, which runs from Feb 1, 2022, to Jan 21, 2023. Each design is also customised to capture the unique characteristics of each member of the museum roundtable.

Said 35-year-old artist Ms Luo: "When NHB reached out to me, I was thankful for the chance to be involved in such a meaningful and interesting project.

"It has been challenging and fun at the same time. I think it's meaningful because it also introduces the public to the existence of some museums, which they might not know about."

Ms Emily Luo, Instagram artist and the designer for this year’s limited edition red packets. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

While the hongbao sets are free, Mr Tan said the NHB will also offer 350 limited-edition collector's albums for sale for the first time this year.

These will be priced at $70, and will be available for sale from Jan 22 at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

There will also be two online giveaways on the “I Love Museums” Facebook page for members of the public to win a full set of the red packets. The first will be held from Jan 7 to Jan 16, and the second from Jan 24 to Jan 28.

Ms Priscilla Quek, 39, has been a collector for two years.

"I really enjoy this campaign and I appreciate how family-oriented it is. When I'm doing this with my kids , it's like a mission and we can all learn the different cultures and facts that are displayed at the museums. It has been fun, and I really look forward to this year's campaign," said the housewife and mother of two.

Ms Priscilla Quek, novice collector of red packets at the Museum Roundtable’s Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign. ST PHOTO: THADDEUS ANG

Ms Chai is on a mission.

"My family and I are determined to collect them all," she said.

"I have enjoyed myself, and I hope this campaign will continue for a long time so I can collect red packes for subsequent zodiac animals."

Members of the public can visit this website for more information.

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