One particular thing that I love doing when visiting cities and countries is to at least get a small understanding of the path it took for the city to become what it is today and because of how small the world really is, you’re always going to discover something new and also something similar to your background – so in my solo visit to Singapore, it was only natural to visit their flagship museum.
The permanent exhibit at the museum goes through Singapore’s history in a few big blocks, and I will show a few pieces from each of the sections:
This is more from when the population was still by all accounts tribal; what is quite interesting is that most of the tools and habits were consistent with other tribal museums that we’ve visited before; like the Yoshinogari Park.
By far this was the period in Singapore’s history that saw the greatest changes and also the period that was most colourful in my opinion. From when Sir Stamford Raffles [link] first came to Singapore and colonized the area and opened it up to trade all around the world, Singapore during that period experienced tremendous population and wealth growth. This is also the period when the Chinese population started migrating into the country, although like most Chinese migrants during that period, they were only employed as cheap labour; and like Hong Kong, opium was a drug that had a huge hold onto the working poor.
During WWII (~1937) period when the Japanese army was invading all the countries around them, Singapore (just like Hong Kong) – came under Japanese rule after the British army was defeated. The Singapore population views that the toughest period in their history was during Japanese rule – and throughout the museum, there were plenty of pieces that displayed the life under Japanese rule, the propaganda and also the discovery using tapioca to create the sensation of being full.
Return to British Rule and Current Singapore
Admittedly, this section of the exhibit was probably the most lacking in my opinion, because the exhibit touched briefly on how the war ended and after British rule returned, the leadership in Singapore gradually moved towards becoming independent from Malaysia. The progress itself was interesting (and very similar to Hong Kong) – but I would’ve preferred if there was a bit more information rather than just statistics plastered on a wall.
Overall, I think the history of how National Museum was excellent in the way they curate things, the temporary exhibit “What is not visible is not invisible” was excellent. The history part was excellent up until the slightly more modern side – but in terms of visit, this place is well worth the visit if you’re in Singapore and want to spend a bit of time learning.