SINGAPORE - You do not need a licence to captain a boat at the revamped Singapore Maritime Gallery.
The gallery boasts a simulator of a ship bridge - the room from where a vessel is commanded - where visitors can steer a boat through bad weather or in the dark of night to complete missions.
The simulator is a highlight of the gallery, which has undergone a nearly $2-million, nine-month overhaul.
The 1,000 sq m gallery, located at Marina South Pier, tells the story of Singapore's transformation from a small trading post into a global hub port and international maritime centre.
It first opened in 2012. Its contents have been updated in the revamp to reflect developments in the sector, such as plans for the Tuas port which will consolidate existing container terminals into a mega port.
The gallery also has more interactive elements than before. Visitors can go "ship spotting" by pointing a tablet at the displayed ship models. Information about the particular ship will then show up on the tablet, through the use of augmented reality technology.
Two new spaces in the gallery have been set aside for events such as exhibitions and workshops, and as a resource corner where visitors can access maritime-related materials and publications.
At its official reopening on Monday (April 17), Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo noted that in 1967, Singapore had to make a difficult choice: build conventional port facilities that handle cargo of all shapes and sizes, or invest in a costly container port, even though containerisation was in its infancy and there may be no demand for container shipping here.
Decision-makers took the risk and built the Tanjong Pagar container terminal, and today, the maritime industry accounts for 7 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and employs over 170,000 people.
"Singapore was not born a maritime nation," said Mrs Teo, who is also Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and in the Prime Minister's Office. "We became one, not by chance but by taking calculated risks and constant innovation. How did it happen? How shall we chart the way forward?"
The gallery may help answer these questions, she added.
Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, said the refreshed gallery "will allow us to reach out to younger Singaporeans and interest them not only in our heritage, but also a career in the maritime industry".
The gallery is open from 9am to 6pm from Tuesdays to Sundays and is closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday. Admission is free.