Checking out the museums on SG50 weekend

During the golden jubilee long weekend celebration last week (Singapore celebrates its 50th year of independence this year), we were tempted by the various activities organized to coincide with the National Day Parade. One of them was the free entry into the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. There were a couple of interesting exhibits, The Deep, which features animals living in the depth of the ocean, and DreamWorks Animation.

We should have expected that it was going to be crowded since entry was free. After all, the fees for both exhibitions would have costed S$37 per adult. In fact the friendly barista at this specialty coffee joint which I frequent warned me that lines were long and we should be there early. So we took his advice.

When we arrived at MBS at around 10.15am and approaching the museum (which opens at 10am), we spotted people standing in line, and we couldn’t see the beginning nor the end. We suspected this could be the museum line, and walked as fast as we could to the end of it, while a couple of families near us literally ran. Yes, there was a freaking long queue by then,  which was like almost a km long!

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As the queue snaked along, there were signage indicating how long we had to wait. The nearest one read “3 hours”! My husband went ahead to check out, and returned to assure me that wait-time would be shorter than expected because the museum staff were moving people along at a fast rate. True enough, we were only in line for about an hour before we reached the museum.image

It turned out there was a third exhibition: Singapore Stories.image

We were ushered into the elevator which took us to the upper level to the Singapore Stories exhibition. When the door opened, only we stepped out, the rest of the passengers remained inside the lift. My husband then said, ‘Ok, so the staff want us to come here first. Let’s take the next lift down. And when anyone asked, say we had checked out the exhibition, and that the first thing we saw was LKY on the front page papers.” Yep, as you can guessed, there were not many visitors at this exhibition (which is free by the way), and instead most were interested only in the other two, especially DreamWorks Animation.

Down at the basement where the two popular exhibitions are held, there were more lines, and the one for DreamWorks was longer (see picture below). So we decided to go for The Deep first. Lucky we didn’t have to queue for long, only about 15 minutes.

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The promo introduction to The Deep exhibition is “Embark on a breathtaking journey through the oceanic depths and discover the remarkable beauty of deep-sea life in this immersive environment of extremely rare specimens, full-colour photographs and exclusive film footage”. Indeed we got to see many strange looking deep sea creatures, that might even pass off as monsters.

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I admit I didn’t spend a lot of time studying the exhibits, but I think I got the key message, which is the destruction of sea corals which harbor some of the sea creatures and as a result, disrupt the ecosystem. The problem lies is the non-ownership of much of the ocean where it’s free for all to fish indiscriminately. What is happening is that deep sea trawlers use nets to sweep across the ocean floor to catch prized fish, and destroy the corals in the process. These corals take ten thousand years to grow to where they are, and all it takes is a net to kill them in one fell swoop. The environmentalists tried to bring up an ocean protection treaty to the United Nation assembly but no country wanted to ratify it. I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since humans have no qualm about wrecking havoc on each other, so what more the other creatures. This is the tragedy of mankind.

After we exit the deep ocean display, we decided to bite the bullet and join the line for DreamWorks. Buddy was attracted by the dragon display hanging overhead.
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Here we have the penguins from Madagascar representing the animated film company.
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Upon entry, we were greeted by a roomful of beautifully sculpted figures and amazing illustrations of the famous DreamWorks characters.

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Look at this intricately made garden of Mr Peabody from the movie “Mr Peabody and Sherman”!

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Here we have the “Madagascar” display. Seriously I am impressed by how much painstaking effort goes to producing an animated film. The attention to details is incredible!

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Figures from “Moses”.

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“How to Train a Dragon”
There is a short 3 minutes clip showing the view from the perspective of a flying dragon. Though short, the artwork and direction is breathtaking. My husband suggested we get the DVD of the movie for Buddy.

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We only noticed the below dragon figures when we were about to depart from the museum. Buddy called them “dinosaurs”.

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This was the queue after we left the museum. It might be really 3 hours wait in line for the people.

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We went to the National Museum on Monday (the day after national day) since it was the last day of the children’s exhibition. Thank God it wasn’t as crazy as the Artscience Museum, maybe because admission is free even on regular days.

There were handicrafts and plays set up for the kids. But perhaps Buddy is not old enough or that many of the exhibits didn’t entice him, he didn’t show any interest in most of them. Instead we checked out the handicraft section for him to have some fun. For a S$2 donation, we got a craft box to make a puppet (Buddy chose a squirrel). Though it ended up my husband and I were the ones who worked on the crafts. I made the puppet while my husband made an origami bird, and Buddy spent the time playing with a paper plane my husband had first made for him. (Well, he did color the two squirrel hands.)
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There was a garden playground made using plastic bags. It was at this place that all the kids including Buddy had a blast.
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So it was basically a museum weekend for the family, which was pretty good since it was Buddy’s first visit to one (or in this case two). But we have learnt that there is no point taking advantage of freebies, because after we left the ArtScience Museum, we couldn’t find a lunch venue at MBS. The whole place was packed to the hilt, even getting a pita takeaway at Pita Pan took hell of a long time. We ended up going back to Raffles City mall for lunch in the mid afternoon. Instead of paying money, we paid with our time.

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