National Museum Of Singapore Re-Opens Permanent Galleries

The National Museum of Singapore re-opens its permanent galleries on Saturday, 19 September 2015. To celebrate the re-opening, the National Museum has put together a fun-filled Opening Weekend Carnival that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 19 and 20 September. Everyone is invited to celebrate the museum’s re-opening at the carnival and to take a refreshed look at Singapore’s history in the new galleries. 

The permanent galleries comprise the Singapore History Gallery, the Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years galleries and the Goh Seng Choo Gallery. These galleries present Singapore’s history and national collection in more immersive and innovative ways, and also showcase artefacts that have never been displayed before. 

Ms. Angelita Teo, Director of National Museum of Singapore, says, “After a break for almost a year, we are excited to finally be able to re-open the permanent galleries to visitors. With a refreshed layout and updated narrative, visitors can look forward to a more engaging and immersive experience; a bit like stepping back in time to the different periods of our history. Innovative displays, interactive elements and compelling personal stories make history and the artefacts come to life, and through them, we hope that visitors will form a greater emotional connection to the museum and to Singapore’s history. We hope that everyone will take time in this shared space to discover more about our history, explore how far we have come, and reconnect with the Singapore story.”

Significant Artefacts, Compelling Stories

Over 1,700 artefacts are displayed in the new galleries. Many are significant historical artefacts from the national collection, such as the Singapore Stone which dates back to the 10th–14th centuries, the 19th-century Sejarah Melayu, and the larger-than-life portraits of Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, Sir Shenton Whitelegge Thomas and Sir Cecil Clementi Smith.

Among the new artefacts displayed are personal objects and objects of national significance, as well as family heirlooms that hold a special significance to the people or institutions who donated or loaned them to the museum. New artefacts recently donated to the museum include a 1959 flexidisc recording of “Majulah Singapura” before it became the national anthem, a full set of the first National Service uniform, a Singapore National Registration Identification Card first issued in 1966, as well as a sewing machine used during the war.

Other objects loaned to the museum for the permanent galleries include a wedding certificate, wedding wash basin, wedding rings and family photo belonging to Mr and Mrs Lai Kok Wah, who met and got married during World War Two, as well as the Singapore surrender table on which the British ceded control of Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942. The table is displayed at the National Museum on a one-year loan from the Australian War Memorial.

Immersive, Interactive Galleries

The stories and significance behind the artefacts are brought to life in the galleries through contextual displays, ambient sounds, multimedia platforms as well as interactive platforms, providing visitors with an immersive experience as they rediscover Singapore’s history. Relive the day when Singapore’s independence was declared, step into the kitchen of an HDB flat from the 1970s and 1980s, be greeted by the aroma of afternoon tea on entering an old colonial bungalow, watch a new film in a drive-in cinema from the 1980s and experience what life was like during the Japanese Occupation.

These are some of the immersive experiences visitors will discover in the new galleries, which use exhibition design, scents, multimedia and technologies such as object theatre and Pepper’s Ghost to contextualise artefacts and evoke moments or the atmosphere of an era.

Visitors will be able to contribute their own stories on an interactive map in the Singapore History Gallery’s Global City section. The map contains memories of places in Singapore from the Singapore Memory Project and lesser known facts about Singapore’s global footprints.

Visitors are also invited to submit their own stories or share their knowledge of Singapore’s other international connections for other visitors to enjoy. Another interactive highlight that visitors can look forward to is the artwork GoHead/GoStan: Panorama Singapura by Singaporean artists Brandon Tay and Safuan Johari, which will take them on an audio-visual expedition of the various periods in Singapore’s history.

This is the first time the museum has commissioned and included an art installation within the gallery’s narrative. This multimedia art installation unveils a tapestry of familiar images derived from the nation’s historical, geographical and social memories that explore the Singaporean consciousness, articulated through the lens of its changed and changing landscape of the past and present.

The museum has also received the support from leading fragrance and flavour developer Givaudan, to develop scents that add another sensory dimension to the galleries. Givaudan has created two ambient scents – the “After Rain” scent in the Transforming the Landscape section of the Singapore History Gallery, and an “Afternoon Tea” scent in the Life in Singapore: Modern Colony gallery. They have also created seven scent stations for visitors to discover scents such as that of tembusu flowers, the breadflower and even the old polluted Singapore River.

As part of the collaboration, Givaudan has also launched “City”, a new fragrance created especially for Singapore’s 50th year of independence. “City” is sold at the National Museum’s Museum Label shop and proceeds will be donated to the museum. 

Discover the new galleries and join in the festivities at the Opening Weekend Carnival

The National Museum invites everyone in Singapore to join in the museum’s festivities and enjoy the first preview of the new galleries on 19 and 20 September. Admission is free for all for both days. Visitors can take part in guided tours or play a game of bingo that will take them through the galleries and allow them to redeem traditional snacks such as kachang putih and other nostalgic treats after completing a series of activities.

Other fun activities include henna-painting, making paper planes and hats from the different eras, listening to stories from yesteryear, dressing up in vintage costumes for photographs, as well as playing on popular bouncy playgrounds outside the museum.

As parking at the museum is limited that weekend, visitors are advised to park at other nearby carparks or travel via public transportation. For more information, please visit

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