Sunday, April 16, 2017

The National Museum: 5 Years On

Established in the 1840s, the National Museum has always been the go-to place to learn more about Singapore’s history. Ever since our last major visit in 2011, the historical museum has gone through many changes from the newly renovated Singapore History Gallery to the reopening of the iconic Glass Rotunda. Here are some of the new stuff you might want to check out.

What is the National Museum?

The National Museum dates back to the 1840s as the Raffles Museum with the Raffles Library right beside it. The library has since been renamed to the National Library and eventually moved to Victoria Street.

The museum on the other hand, has been updated with the times with new galleries, installations and temporary exhibitions making it still a popular place to go to among Singaporeans and tourists alike.

The Newly Re-Opened Singapore History Gallery

Let’s start off with the Singapore History Gallery which recently reopened after years of renovation work. Visitors can be treated to an in-depth and detailed look into Singapore’s history which you can’t even find in Singapore’s history textbooks.

With its numerous interactive installations, detailed props and improved storytelling, the Singapore History Gallery is one gallery that you must enter when you make a visit to the museum. Walk out refreshed and feeling knowledgeable right here at the Singapore History Gallery.

The New Permanent Galleries

The Permanent Galleries, located on the 2nd level of the museum has gone through renovation works too for the past year or so. Previously, each permanent gallery was arranged into various categories like Fashion, Food and Movies. Now, it’s arranged into different years like 70s Singapore and so on.

The newly re-opened permanent galleries were definitely a major improvement to its previous iteration. The individual exhibitions have become more immersive and there were plenty of interactive elements added.

One notable example includes the re-creation of the defunct Jurong Drive In cinema while another is of a projection mapping on a dining table showcasing the food served to guests during special occasions in the old days.

The Re-Opened Glass Rotunda

Previously used as an entrance to the previous iteration of the Singapore History Gallery, the Glass Rotunda has now reopened to feature an immersive art installation called Story Of The Forest. The installation featured an immersive projection of shooting and falling stars along with mystical creatures roaming around in a colourful forest.

It’s an experience that’s best if you experience it first-hand. It’s something that can never be found anywhere else and we can guarantee you that it will be a memorable experience indeed.

Best of all, it’s completely free for Singaporeans and PR. Walk further up and you’ll be greeted with a photo exhibition of several iconic trees around Singapore captured by a Singaporean photographer.

Temporary Exhibitions Abound

Other than the three permanent exhibitions that we’ve mentioned, the National Museum has constantly put out temporary exhibitions from time to time to entice visitors to come and visit. Some of which were in collaboration with famous museums from around the world while some were created for special occasions.

The Remembering Lee Kuan Yew Temporary Exhibition

In March 2015, Singapore lost Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Many Singaporeans gathered to mourn the loss of an icon by paying a tribute at the Parliament House and witnessing the State Funeral. As a tribute, the National Museum put up a temporary exhibition to showcase all the work and achievements that the late Mr Lee has contributed.

The temporary exhibition even included the famous podium he regularly does his speech on and the Red Box where he kept his work like speech transcripts. The temporary exhibition was eventually integrated into the new Singapore History Gallery.

We Built A Nation Exhibition

As it’s mainly a history museum, the National Museum also set up the We Built A Nation exhibition to show how Singapore became a first world country from third in a span of 50 years.

The exhibition had exhibits that include how Singapore built up its defence force, how the first HDB flats were built and how Singapore managed to rope in foreign multinational companies to build up its economy. Definitely an eye-opening exhibition that’s worth a visit.

80 Years Of Radio Exhibition

2016 was also the year Singapore celebrated 80 years of radio. Radio was the source of news, information and entertainment to many Singaporeans before the invention of the television. This exhibition showcased the history of Singapore’s radio industry such as the most popular music in the olden days, the establishment of new radio stations and profiles of past and present radio DJs.

Even though the TV and internet has become the number one source of entertainment, radio is still going on strong in this day and age. This exhibition will definitely bring back lots of memories among many Singaporeans.

Many More Temporary Exhibitions

The National Museum has plenty of temporary exhibitions throughout the year like Treasures Of The World where visitors can view historical artefacts of mummies from the renowned British Museum. Another temporary exhibition worth mentioning include the exhibition that featured artefacts from other Singapore museums.


The National Museum has tons of interesting stuff for everyone. The best thing is that admission is free for Singaporeans and PR and it’s free for all on Fridays from 6 to 8pm. There’s no reason not to visit the museum. Look out for the latest updates on their exhibitions on their website and Facebook page.

Getting Here

Bus services available: 7, 14, 14e, 16, 36, 77, 106, 111, 124, 128, 131, 147, 162, 162M, 166, 167, 171, 174, 174e, 175, 190, 700, 700A, 850E, 857, 951E, 971E (Bus stop along Stamford Road outside SMU)

Nearest MRT station: CC2 Bras Basah MRT Station (Circle Line)


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