The Little Singapore Book Comes Alive at Children’s Season 2017

Children’s Season opens tomorrow and we can’t be more excited. Starting 27 May until end of July, kids can literally walk into the pages of The Little Singapore Book at the National Museum.

The authors and illustrator testing out the puppet theatre.

Two installations for the Children’s Season brings The Little Singapore Book alive in full, walk-in 3D! Diane’s amazing illustrations now stand child-height, complete with fun activity stations, and additional landmarks not featured in the book.
The exhibits highlight three old forms of transport in Singapore — the trolley bus, trishaw and bumboat (or tongkang).

The first installation, on the first floor foyer of the museum, is the Bumboat Trail. Created in collaboration with first and second year visual arts students from the School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA), it’s a fun-filled space that brings to life the landmarks along the Singapore River on which bumboats used to ply. Our favourite is the re-creation of the Cavenagh Bridge, complete with silver cables and the old sign prohibiting cows and horses to cross. The Old Parliament House is done in miniature too, and doubles up as a puppet theatre, while the Fullerton Building’s former role as the General Post Office is remembered by the mail sorting game.

Kids can even pen a postcard to themselves, stick on a read stamp (all provided by the museum) and mail it off at the vintage red British mailbox in the middle of the installation. The museum will get it into our real postage system and kids will receive their postcard at home a few days later. How cool is that?

Upstairs the Trolley Bus & Trishaw Trial is a larger installation, created in collaboration with students from NTU. In this small, colourful space, kids can sample Singapore’s old cultural and entertainment landmarks, including Haw Par Villa, Chinatown and the Happy World.

There are lots of photo ops here — look out for the very detailed wall of Peranakan houses — and fun stations like colouring Peranakan ’tiles’ and creating your own heritage town. Remember to read the exhibition panels — like in our book, it offers nuggets of little known information about Singapore years and years ago.

Please bring your kids to enjoy the National Museum. Grandparents too would probably enjoy this blast from the past, and have lots to share with the family.

Beyond our two fun spaces, there’s also a tongkang bouncy castle on the front lawn, a sleeping giant in the basement, and a giant suspended netted lounger at the main rotunda where you can climb into and enjoy the view of the coloured glass dome.

Singapore HeritageFest 2016

Hawkers on the National Museum grounds in the 1960s

Did you know that lots of hawkers lined the grounds of the National Museum decades ago and people would go there and eat? We didn’t! So it was a surprise to see this picture of the National Museum taken in the 1960s!

You’ll get a taste of this when the Singapore HeritageFest swings by again over three weekends from 29 April to 15 May. There’ll be 130 programmes and activities across the island which people can take part in to discover the richness of our history and heritage.

National Museum of Singapore - Image courtesy of National Museum of Singapore

To start with, on the opening weekend, the organisers will transform the museum grounds back to the old days that you see in the photograph. Fifteen 2nd and 3rd generation hawkers will set up stalls here to sell their local specialties like popiah and prata, while people can enjoy performances, outdoor film screenings, storytelling of ghost stories (Yikes!) and a special exhibition on 80 years of radio in Singapore. You can also get on board the Storytelling Van and hear tales about the iconic sites of Singapore, or get busy with some crafty and cooking workshops.

SV Gunalan and Chang Su Hui who continue to run their family business, will be among the hawkers at NMS on the opening weekend.

On the same weekend, Bukit Pasoh will also be closed off for a street party and outdoor performances while historic clan houses in the area open their doors for the first time. Wander in and have a guided tour and see what these mysterious clubs do. You’ll also catch more performances like lion dances and Chinese opera.

From right: The Storytelling Van, Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church, Kong Chow Wui Koon.

The second weekend (6-8 May) brings the festival to the heartlands. Among the many heritage and food trails being conducted that weekend is the new Bedok Heritage Trail via a guided bus tour, and an open house at the majestic Command House. If you’ve never been there, this is a gem of a chance. Then there’s A-Go-Go Night at Kampong Gelam, with a mini concert at the Malay Heritage Centre that pays tribute to the legacy of 1960s Singapore bands like The Siglap Five and The Quests. Drag your grandfather along and make sure he puts on his old dancing shoes. It would surely take him back to his younger days.

The third weekend (13-15 May) brings the Heritagefest to Pulau Ubin, with adventure walks, music performances by local musicians, and film screenings under the stars on this nature-filled island.

PicMonkey Collage heritage3
From top right: Pulau Ubin, retro radio studio at the 80 years of radio in Singapore exhibition at NMS, the Aliwal Arts Centre, and Maghain Aboth Synagogue

There are simply loads more programmes across the island, such as a week of activities by the Hokkien Huay Kuan Thian Hock Keng, with movies under the stars, stiltwalking and dragon dances, (26 Apr – 1 May) and the first ever Eurasian Heritage Bus Tour. There’s a heap of other cultural and historical tours that you can join in — guided walks to explore the heritage of Jurong, Dakota Crescent, Joo Chiat; Indian, Chinese and Malay heritage tours, even a tour of Tanglin Halt at 4am in the morning (see how the neighbourhood wakes up everyday!), and open houses at a host of buildings that you probably have never stepped foot in, from temples to mosques and even historic schools.

There’s just too much to list, so it’s best you get onto their website for more details. Some activities are ticketed or require registration which starts on 22 April at 2pm. Get your name down early as the popular events sell out in a snap.