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History Comes Alive

The Glass Rotunda at the National Museum of Singapore has reopened with two new permanent installations that revisit history from a new perspective.



BY Janice Seow

30 December, 2016


A massive interactive digital installation inspired by the National Museum of Singapore’s prized collection – The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings – takes pride of place at the Glass Rotunda, which has reopened following two years of renovation works.

Created by Japanese digital art collective teamLab, the aptly named Story of the Forest installation goes up to a ceiling height of 15 metres, and runs all the way down a 170-metre-long passageway. Calling it their most challenging digital artwork installation to date, teamLab have utilised cutting-edge technology to transform 69 drawings from the William Farquhar collection into animated illustrations that come to life and interact with visitors as they make their way down the Glass Rotunda.

At the bottom of the Glass Rotunda lies the second new permanent installation. Singapore, Very Old Tree is an exhibition by renowned local photographer and artist, Robert Zhao, which was first shown last year at the National Library of Singapore. Drawing inspiration from one of the oldest postcards found in the National Archives of Singapore, which depicts an unspecified tree dating back to 1904, the exhibit presents 17 images of trees around Singapore and highlights the intimate stories of each, thus giving visitors an alternative perspective of Singapore’s history and the personal connections that Singaporeans have with our local trees.

Both installations are an ode to the National Museum of Singapore’s beginnings where a significant part of its collection focused on natural history.

“This is the first revamp of the Glass Rotunda since it was launched back in 2006 as the signature feature of the Museum’s new extension. We are excited to reintroduce it to our visitors with two new installations that reference the museum’s early collections history and invite discourse and dialogue between the historical and the contemporary,” says Angelita Teo, Director of the National Museum of Singapore. “Through both installations, we hope to offer our visitors new ways of looking at Singapore’s history and culture.”


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