Monday, July 07, 2014

Visiting the museum: Masak Masak & Play@NMS

Masak Masak at the National Museum of Singapore must be one of the most popular exhibition of the Children's Season. Based on the theme of My Childhood and suitable for kids between three and seven years old, it features interactive installations and larger-than-life games by both local and international artists such as Justin Lee, Anastassia Elias and Guixot De 8.

We went there midway through the Season, and I believe both EV and AA enjoyed themselves, judging from the giggles they had and the photos of their laughing faces.

Museum 1
Here's what we did at Masak Masak.

Come and Play by Justin Lee
Salon, Level 1


Museum 3
With life-size cardboard displays, this installation wows one with the endless possibilities of creating with cardboard. There are huge houses, a rocking horse, a robot, an aeroplane and even the iconic Dragon playground symbol, all made out of cardboard. It visually lets visitors see that imagination has no bounds, and that it is possible to create anything with cardboard. It's a visual impact that influences not only the children, but adults as well, and could encourage more parents to let their children create freely using cardboard. At the display, children can do a cardboard craft, which changes every day, by just contributing $2 for each craft. At the end of the room, there are also two chalk boards, where kids can draw and doodle to their hearts' content. It was the first time that EV and AA played with chalk, and it looked like they enjoyed it very much. Time to get more chalk!

Museum 2
Museum 4
Larger-than-life Games
Created in collaboration with the School of the Arts (SOTA)Concourse, Level 1
Kids are introduced to traditional childhood games like five stones and pick up sticks, in a life-size version. Some of them are as big as EV and AA, and the students at SOTA have given them a slight modern twist. For example, to enable kids to play with cloth stones that are as big as they are, the kids need to throw the stones that are placed on a round mesh net. When we were there, there were three stations with different sized stones. EV started off with the biggest ones, then gradually went to the smallest ones once she realised she couldn't handle the big ones. For the game of pick up sticks, the cloth sticks, with Velcro at both ends, could be stuck together to make different shapes. The last game of the trio required the kids to roll a ball down a mesh net, and try to get it into the hole in the middle. That was quite a hit.

Museum 7
Museum 8
Rouleaux by Anastassia Elias (France)
Platform, Level 2

Museum 11
Museum 12
I was personally quite amazed by this. Imagine, tiny dioramas in the middle of used toilet paper rolls, each depicting different scenes of daily lives, movies and places around the world. Think miniature scenes of a movie production set, the Australia outback, and even a dragon dance, all made using intricate cut-outs of shapes and figures using tweezers and manicure scissors. The amount of focus and attention that must be put into each scene, it’s enough to get one gaping with amazement. To let kids have their own experience of making their own diorama, there is a craft activity that involves cutting out pictures of different scenes, sticking them to a paper and then rolling the paper up. AA got a little distracted after a while, but EV kept at this to the end, with lots of help from mummy of course.

Museum 9

Museum 10

Sculpture Scribble Guixot de 8 (Spain)
Glass Atrium, Level 2
This interactive display got EV and AA running from one end to another. As EV was hard at work doing her miniature diorama, AA went through this display for at least three times. EV and I joined later, but we had to queue to get in. And when we finally did, we could only spend ten minutes exploring the eight or so installations that showcase simple physics. Still, it really got the kids engaged, as they explored the creations by Spanish group Guixot de 8, which are made using old and scrap materials.

Museum 13
Museum 14
Play@NMS
Level 3
We also visited Play@NMS, which is the National Museum’s first permanent, dedicated area for young children. Created with the purpose of encouraging learning through play, this space, with special designated areas to Explore, Create and Perform, gives kids the opportunity to play with interactive displays, create artworks and perform. As we were there on a weekday only the Explore area was open. EV and AA got to explore a living room, bedroom and kitchen, and even got the chance to watch an animation in a little tent. In the kitchen, EV also checked out how to cook Chilli Crab.

Museum 16
Museum 15

While I think that it’s a great idea to have a space in a museum just for kids, to let them know that going to a museum can also be great fun, but I do hope that the other Create and Perform areas will also open on weekdays. Well, at least the Create area. This is because there is an activity in the Explore area that allows kids to make an impression of different Singapore dishes like Nasi Lemak. The helpers there asked kids to bring it home to colour, but wouldn’t it be better for them to colour at the museum itself? Alternatively, why not have a colouring space in the Explore area on weekdays? I think it’ll be another way to extend kids’ discovery in the Explore area.

All in all, I do recommend kids to go to Masak Masak, which ends in less than a month’s time, and visit Play@NMS at the same time. Plus, the highlight can be the yummy pasta and pancakes, kids' style, at Food for Thought. Which was the case for AA, as he discovered a new love for fresh cream and dug into my mini tub which came with my pancakes.

Museum 5

Museum 6

National Museum of Singapore
Masak Masak
24 May 2014 - 03 Aug 201410am - 6pmFree admission
The playgrounds located at the front lawn of the museum are open every Sat & Sun from now till 3 Aug, 11am to 1pm & 3pm to 5pm.

Play@NMS
10am - 6pm daily
Free admission

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