SINGAPORE - The National Museum of Singapore has closed the queue for a memorial exhibition on the life and work of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
The exhibition is open from 10am to 8pm daily, but a museum spokesman told The Straits Times that it had to close the queue four hours earlier because of overwhelming response. The museum sent out a tweet at 5pm to announce that admission to the exhibition has been closed.
At 4pm, the waiting time was still four hours. The estimated number of visitors to the exhibition at 6pm was about 5,500, the museum said.
"A lot of people in the queue thought that admissions would be free only during the exhibition In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew," the spokesman said.
"But the Museum is always free for permanent residents and Singaporeans."
The items on display in the exhibition include a red box that Mr Lee used to keep his working documents, a barrister wig he wore for his admission to the Bar and a Rolex watch that the Singapore Union of Postal and Telecommunications Workers gave to him after he successfully represented the union in arbitration proceedings over a wage dispute.
They will be on display again when the museum's permanent galleries re-open in September.
Admission to In Memoriam: #LeeKuanYew 1923 - 2015 is closed today as the current waiting time will stretch past closing time.
— National Museum (@natmuseum_sg) April 3, 2015
Japanese tourist Chizuko Hando, 50, submitted a picture of long queues to The Straits Times, adding that she waited three hours.
She heard about the exhibition from a Singaporean friend and decided to check it out on Friday. She started waiting at 12.30pm and saw the exhibition three hours later.
"The queue was really an eye-opener for me. I don't know much about Mr Lee Kuan Yew but after this, I would like to find out more about him when I return to Japan as I want to know why Singaporeans love and respect him so much," she said.
Singaporean Belinda Tan, in her 40s, wanted to visit the exhibition on Friday afternoon, but was detered by the long line of a few hundred people.
"The queue started from inside the museum, and snaked out to the garden for the length of the museum on the right side. There were many families with children and elderly people. I can go back on a weekday," said Ms Tan.
The line was still growing when she left at around 2.30pm. The museum said it gave priority to the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled.
Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong was also at the musuem to thank the people standing in line. Many people wanted to see Mr Lee's red box, he said in a Facebook update at around 6.30pm.
Visitors who want to come for the memorial exhibition can expect long queues, especially on weekends.
"We will try to make sure everyone will be able to see the exhibits, but the museum staff may close the queue ahead of closing time if there are large crowds," the museum's spokesman said.
Mr Lee, Singapore's first Prime Minister, died on March 23 at age 91.
In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew will run till April 26. More than 22,800 have visited the exhibition since it opened on March 25.
I did plan to go visit the #leekuanyew exhibition at National Museum, but changed my mind upon seeing the queue. Moreover, the museum personnel said that from where I'm standing, the waiting time is at least 2.5 - 3 hrs. Wah kau so long!! Nvm, I shall go there another time... gonna watch movie at The Cathay
A photo posted by Tanat Pruetthipun (@tanatdaman) onApr 2, 2015 at 9:54pm PDT