Museums are a great way to learn about a country's history.
Which is why I was looking forward to visiting the National Museum of Singapore, located just a short walk from Dhoby Ghaut station, right by Fort Canning (for those of you who know Singapore...I think it's a park?).
I love how it says on their website that they are "Singapore's oldest museum with the youngest and most innovative soul," because it's true. The museum was both historical and modern at the same time. Their design game was spot on.
R and I had a quick bite to eat before heading to see the exhibits. There was a photography gallery but what I was excited to see was the Singapura: 700 Years exhibit that had opened the day before, in celebration of Singapore's 50 years of independence.
I knew that Japan had occupied Singapore for a time (well, I read it in a Japanese travel guide for Singapore and it said that it could still be a sticky subject so be humble...which is not bad advice at all). But other than that, I had no knowledge of their history so this unique exhibit allowed me to see how Singapore grew from a small village to the financial capital of Asia that it is now.
We had just gotten past the first couple of sections and R says to me, "This is so nice how peacefully this country has evolved," referring to Ancient Singapore and the British Colonization that made Singapore an international port. Then we turned a corner to see the section on the Japanese occupation during WWII and he turns to me and says, "Oh."
Yes, oh. Well, you know it's never the greatest feeling seeing your country's not-so-proud moments in the past. But...my thought is, the more you know about it, the less the chance of repeating it in the future. It's more sensible not to shy away from the past.
Looking through the visual gallery of scenes during the occupation, watching the short documentary video of interviews with the Singaporean people who lived through it, and reading the facts and data regarding the war...it gave me a sense of what those 3 years of suffering through Japanese occupation must have been like for the people of Singapore and it once again confirmed my belief that nothing good ever comes from war.
The following sections were just as interesting, displaying photos of post-war Singapore and another section on how it led to an independent Singapore.
I think this exhibit was the perfect way to learn about Singapore's history and get a feel of how the country has evolved. It had the perfect amount of information in each section, giving you just enough to be curious and want to learn more on your own. Not to mention how visually appealing all the displays were. I really loved this exhibition.
And if you're really into it, you can always take the quiz at the very end that tests your knowledge of Singapore's history!
Do you like learning the history of other countries? Do you go to museums?
(photo by R)
93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
TEL: +65 6332 3659
FEE: Exhibition fee for non-residents 6.00SGD