Singapore Event: Masak Masak & Singapura 700 at National Museum

This is part 2 of our “Museum Day”. Read “Part 1 on the “Imaginarium” Exhibition at Singapore Art Museum & “Part 3 – Singapore Philatelic Museum

Due to the Children’s Season 2015 in June 2015, we visited the children’s exhibition -“Masak Masak” at National Museum of Singapore on the same day as “Imaginarium” at SAM 8Q and the Singapore Philatelic Museum. These buildings are in the vicinity of each other so it would be good to allocate an entire day for visiting.



This year’s Children’s Season (for children aged 3 to 7) at the National Museum of Singapore is themed “Masak Masak” which features familiar old playgrounds in Singapore, interactive installations by Singaporean and international artists. This event is annually held in June and we had attended twice before.


Take the MRT to Bras Basah MRT Station on the Circle Line.

“Masak Masak” – Children’s Exhibits


1. Puppet Making / Origami

“Queen of the Forest” installation by Jeremy Hiah (Singapore) showcases a puppet show with a beautiful mural wall. We were not there during weekend showtimes so we missed it. Nevertheless, we let Dar participate in making a shadow puppet by colouring, cutting out the parts, fixing the metal studs and finally pasted the wooden sticks. It was quite a long process so we had to help him cut out the parts too. We were also given origami papers but did not have the time to work on it.



2. Games of the Past

These were replicas of the simple games Vin and I played in the past in giant sizes! It was fun to have the two of them compete to play the “eraser tipping” game. He also played with the “ball in the maze” game that used to be hand-held games we played when we were children. There were no electronic devices then and toys were made from simple materials.


3. Create Luminous Lines

When Dar saw this installation “Luma-City” by NUS Industrial Design (Singapore) in the brochure, he immediately wanted to visit the installation. We persuaded him to look through others first because the gallery was at a higher storey.

He was so excited when we finally stepped into the dark place and was tireless in pushing the transport vehicles to create luminous lines on the special coated floor. The lines stayed for a while before disappearing. We asked the personnel why the floor was special and he told us about the special coating and that even lights from the handphone could create the lines. We tried it out by writing some letters on the floor and indeed, as long as there was a bright light, colourful lines would be formed. Nice and innovative!


4. Play @ National Museum

After this, we proceeded to this enclosed area called, “Let’s Play” where children could play with several exhibits inside, depending on the theme.


a) Be a cook and feed your parents

There was a cooking station with recipes and fake food so Dar became a “cook” and served us chicken rice. He also found out the ingredients to make “Nasi Lemak”, his favourite local Malay dish, by pasting some magnetic pictures onto a plate.


b) Watch a short film

We were surprised to discover the short films we had seen in SAM 8Q’s Imaginarium shown here too. As we only had time to watch one just now, we stayed inside this tent to watch a few more.


c) Wear an ethnic costume & fit some wooden puzzles to a tree

The wooden puzzles were more for younger kids but he had fun too trying to fit the correct item into the recesses of the “tree”.


Frankly, we were quickly done with the children’s exhibits. They were cute but could not entice Dar for long because he’s quite mature for his age (Age 6+). I felt they were also more for younger kids to gain an awareness instead of really learning fun. We proceeded to view the exhibitions “In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew” and “Singapura 700”.

5. Wander through the Materials Maze

At the basement level, there was another beautiful installation for both adults and children, “Wanderlust by Crystal Wagner (U.S.A.)”. I was amazed and marvelled at the effort required. This fantastical forest world was created from twisting plastic bags of different colours with other everyday materials for support! Dar love walking through the tunnels created, a funland for him.


Special Exhibition: “In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew”

We could not miss this special exhibition on our founding Father of Singapore. He passed away in March 2015 and the entire country mourned his loss in a week of National Mourning.



1. The flag covering the casket of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

2. The speaker stand where speeches were made.

3. The historical red ministerial box which Mr Lee Kuan Yew used while he was in political office, containing his documents. He used it for the last time on 4th Feb 2015, before he was hospitalised. This was a significant item symbolising his unwavering commitment to Singapore.

4. The long panels showing his political journey — Road to Merdeka. One could listen to videos of his speeches as they walk past.

5. Old political documents displayed in glass cases. Papers such as his advertisements during election, polling documents etc. I found these interesting.

Special Exhibition: “Singapura: 700 Years”


Someone said as she walked behind me, “We only take 1-2 hours to walk through 700 years of building Singapore.”

I nodded because I also felt the same way. We had a great time here learning through the 6 different sections, experiencing Singapore’s transformation from a humble fishing village to a city with modern housing in 700 years.

This exhibition is suitable for school going children too as they could learn a bite-size history of Singapore in an interactive and interesting way, without reading through boring texts. Dar was able to get some knowledge through these exhibits. They could look at replicas of structures, artefacts, dioramas, antiques and vintage items and even touched some of them.

There are six sections to walk through, Archaeology in Singapore, Ancient Singapore (1300–1818), Colonial Singapore (1819–1942), Syonan-To (1942–1945), Road to Merdeka (1946–1965) and Independent Singapore (1965–1975).

1. Archaeology in Singapore

Interesting to know that there are archaeologists in Singapore and learn a little about the job they do to uncover the historical artefacts.


2. Look at the Dioramas (in various sections)

The diorama below in the “Colonial Singapore (1819–1942)” section, depicts a view of the Commercial Square in the 1850s. It was part of a series of 20 dioramas that was produced in 1983 in the Ayala Museum in Philippines.

Dar was most interested in these dioramas located in different sections of the exhibition and would stop at each of them to look closely for a long time. The models were all so well-made.


Dioramas in “Syonan-To (1942–1945)” & “Road to Merdeka (1946–1965)”. We explained to Dar what the Japanese were doing to the Chinese and how terrible it was for those people when Singapore was occupied in World War II.


3. Syonan-To (1942–1945)

The two of us felt these exhibits on World War II were the best. Stepping in, we could feel the atmosphere of war-torn Singapore. The gloominess, the blood red walls, the prison gates…There were so many information to take in with artefacts such as old documents and how life was like when Singapore was occupied. As we had read some of these information before in Changi Museum, we moved on to the next section after staying a while. The load of information is great for visitors and students who wants to know more.


4. Independent Singapore (1965–1975)

This was a fun part as we discovered those cement seats and tables that we used to have downstairs in our HDB estates. There are probably some still found in old estates but I had stayed in new estates for a long time and had not seen them since I graduated from Secondary School. Thus, it was nostalgic for Vin and me to recall these structures.

Dar said as he sat at the table, “I wish we had brought our chess set so we could play here.”

There was even a Merry-go-round playground that actually turns but I wasn’t sure if they allow children to play on it.

Dar was interested in the old telephone that requires turning the dial for each number and Vin showed him how to use it. We sat on the sofas and watched a projection video of how the first Housing Estate was built and people’s first impressions of their new flats. It was informative and we learnt so much!



Exiting the National Museum of Singapore, the children could play at inflated playgrounds — replicas of Singapore old playgrounds. Adding to the “Dragon playground” this year was the “Dove Playground” and “Watermelon Playground”. It is only opened every Sat & Sun until 10th August 2015 and at certain timings. As we went to the exhibitions on a weekday, Dar didn’t get the chance to play (We didn’t get to play last year too due to rain…no luck with it). They sure look fun!




For More Information, Check the Official Website.

Location: 93 Stamford Road S(178897).
Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 6pm | Last admission at 5.30pm

1) “Masak Masak”Children’s Seasons’ Exhibits runs until 10 Aug 2015.

2) “Singapura: 700 Years” exhibition runs from 28 Oct 2014 – 10 Aug 2015.

Ticket Price for the Special Exhibition: FREE for Singaporeans & Permanent Residents to Permanent Galleries / Foreign Adults $5 / Children aged 6 years and below – Free
Nearest MRT Station: Bras Basah MRT Station.