One of the best things to do before starting out on your trip to any country is to understand the country or for that fact even the city. I had heard so much about Singapore. I expected so much from Singapore and when I finally reached Singapore, it blew my mind. Yes! Even with those high expectations of mine, the city managed to amaze me. Luckily for me, I stumbled across the Singapore City Gallery as I blundered through the rain on my first day. The Singapore City Gallery talks all about Singapore, the past, the present and the future. It tells you the secrets of planning and infrastructure. How and why the gardens were incorporated into the planning and why… There is so much that the Singapore City Gallery explains and once you visit, you will find that you have a newfound respect for the city.
LOCATION AND ENTRANCE FEES
You will find the Singapore City Gallery is easy to find and is centrally located. Two landmarks near it are Chinatown and the Central Business District. If you want a more detailed address it is ’45 Maxwell Road, The URA Centre, 06918’.
There are no entrance fees for the Singapore City Gallery. That means that you have no excuse to visit. It isn’t a very large museum and I would like to think of it as the introduction to the city and the country as a whole.
THE LAYOUT OF THE SINGAPORE CITY GALLERY
At first glance the museum looks overwhelmingly huge. In truth it isn’t. I leisurely strolled through the whole building and finished it in half an hour. I’ve seen people breezing through it at a much faster pace. So, it all depends on how much time you want to spend. The Singapore City Gallery has three floors. The first floor is dedicated to an ‘Island Wide Model’ of the country and temporary exhibits while the second and third floor are dedicated to the permanent exhibits and the Central area model.
THE FIRST FLOOR
One of the displays in Singapore City Gallery
As I mentioned before, an island wide model is placed at the very entrance of the Singapore City museum. The island wide model is huge, accurate and impressive. It gives you an idea of the layout and landscape of the country as a whole. In a way, it is the main attraction on the floor. The other attractions are temporary exhibits. At the point of time when I visited the museum, it showcased the work of different entrepreneurs. From motorized scooters to battery operated fans, even architectural designs and models dotted the room. I believe that the ability to showcase your own work in a museum must be particularly inspiring for youth and it is a great incentive to innovate.
THE SECOND FLOOR
The Central Area Model on the second floor of the Singapore City Gallery.
The second floor contains the ‘Central Area Model’. This model depicts the city of Singapore in real time. It is minutely crafted and accurate. Try to spot where you are and where you stay in Singapore. I had a lot of fun trying to figure it out.
Contrarily to belief, the second floor is the last floor that you visit in the Singapore City Museum. The second stop on your way is actually the third floor which offers you a bird’s eye view of Central Area Model on the second floor. There is more to the third floor and I will talk all about it in just a bit.
THE THIRD FLOOR
The third floor in my opinion is the most impressive floor in the building. Probably not so mesmerizing as the models (those are really cool) but because of the information that it provides.
THE TOUCHSTONES OF PLANNING
I love the immersive way of showing the touchstones of planning.
One of the first exhibits on the floor talks about what went into planning Singapore. It says that the touchstones of planning are the Physical size and population, Economic robustness, City/State, Built and National heritage and Aspirations. The interactive screen goes on to tell you about each of these topics in detail. The idea behind it all is to strive for balance between the touchstones to provide its citizens with quality life and so that the nation thrives.
THE SINGAPORE TIMELINE
The next exhibit is a lot like a time line of the country. Where it all began, how things evolved and where Singapore stands today. The timeline is represented by pictures on the left wall which are cool to look at. On your right-hand side, you will find the view of the Central Area Model.
Quick tip: This is a great place to take a pic of the model.
TIT BITS OF INFORMATION
Bits of information in the Singapore City Gallery.
Each of the remaining rooms has some titbits of information. Some have videos, others have games, and some are interactive screens. There is so much to learn and understand about the city that I’m afraid I can’t pen it all down, but I will try to summarize them in the form of a few ‘Did you know?’ points.
Did you know that
- Singapore was first a fishing village and then a trading port?
- Windmills were used to draw water out of the swamping lands of the Kallang Basin in the 1930’s like how it was done in Kinderdijk in Netherlands?
- Singapore is one of the busiest ports with at least 600 ships anchored off its coast at any point in time?
- Singapore has used its space vertically upwards and downwards?
That is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to understand and learn about the city. Like how it aims to be a city in a garden and nor a garden in a city. How it encourages vertical gardens and aims to reduce its carbon footprint. The Singapore City Gallery also talks about how the planning of Singapore involved considering the needs of different groups of citizens.
Like I said, The Singapore City Gallery is a great place to start your trip. It covers the entire city, it’s past and its present (plus some of the future) in a gist and gives you a better insight into Singapore. It helps you make better observations and also helps you feel the pulse of the city. In no time at all, you will find that that pulse becomes your own.