Museums are not just places for exhibitions and artefacts. They are places where history is kept alive – the history of people and their stories. That was exactly what Sarah, Raven, and I experienced when we went down to the National Museum of Singapore for the “Because You Played a Part” journey for Total Defence Day.
The entrance was peppered with stations and exhibits from the Singapore Armed Forces, the Navy, and the Air Force. It has become a staple, and rightly so – you are talking about national defence anyway. Apart from the usual tanks, weaponry, and ration sampling though, we were intrigued by this new activity they had.
It was pretty cool to handle the metal detector, especially when you’re really looking for something. Other than that, the earthquake simulator was interesting as well. I thought it did provide a good glimpse and taste on what to do in the event of a disaster, great demonstration as compared to just videos and instructional manuals.
Moving into the museum, we were presented with five different routes, featuring different sub themes related to the aspects of Singaporean life. As we wanted something a little bit different from our views, we chose to go through the route of the Singapore veteran.
Starting from the Salon, where the starting videos of the five routes were placed, we were later given a map marking the path we should take. Generally, each station was an exhibit or account by a Singaporean fitting that particular theme. Our route included – a retiree, a farmer, a sportsman, an armed forces mentor, a family matriarch, and a volunteer.
While they had installations and panels up for you to read, what made it interesting was how the accounts were relatable and honest. It was not only about how Singapore has given them great things or the textbook answers we seem to give while scratching our heads to think about our identities, but the humanity of their lives. The stories shared life accounts, grievances, and hopes for improvement in the future of Singapore.
After all, Total Defence was not just on the economic and military front. And what is a country but her people and their stories?
All in all, it was a great experience.The interactive and kinetic nature of the entire exhibition brought about a new level of involvement and participation from the visitors. The stories being played out, coupled with the panels and installations in play were also able to connect with us on a personal level.
Therefore, I do say GOOD JOB to this year’s Total Defence Day team, and I look forward to the National Museum’s next exhibition – The Peoples’ Collection. For more information on that, click here. For more information on this year’s theme for Total Defence Day, click here.