Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Adventures at Imaginarium 2016

Three museums in two days. The day after we visited the National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Philatelic Museum, we headed to 8Q @ Singapore Art Museum for its annual Imaginarium exhibition. This year, the theme is about oceans.

Right outside is the Underwater Labyrinth display by Janice Wong. It's quite interesting to see how edible foods like isomalt and chocolate can be molded to resemble sea corals. EV and AA were amazed to find out that chocolate was used in the making, and went in search of melting chocolate. Then they guessed that the room is probably air conditioned because they could only find one tiny weeny melting bit, but we can't tell if that's chocolate or isomalt.

Imaginarium 1

The first display upon entering is the Dimana Mogus? (Where is Mogus?) display. It entranced the kids with colourful corals, octopuses and fishes made out of wool. EV and AA spent the most time there, both at the start and at the end of our visit. They loved lying on the gigantic white whale looking cushions, and couldn't stop running from one cushion to another, zipping between the corals.

Imaginarium 2

Like previous installations of Imaginarium, the walls at the staircase were transformed into huge art murals, depicting various oceanic scenes of endangered marine mammals such as a whale being hunted. Don’t They Know It’s The End of the Whale?, The Finale Fin of Shark’s Fins and Apex Predator initiated a discussion about animals being endangered and how it is important to protect them, and also about understanding different cultures in the world.

Imaginarium 3

Imaginarium 4

Imaginarium 11

Our next stop was the art and craft room. This year, the focus is on origami and the folding of marine life such as angel fish, seal and penguin. The good thing about this is that the difficulty levels are scaffolded; the simplest origami is the angel fish. So young and old can participate in this.

EV did not dare to go into the next display – ADA by Karina Smigla-Bobinski, but the adults had a ball!

Imaginarium 5

It's essentially a larger than life illuminated PVC ball that floats in mid-air, with little knobs of charcoal all around. Pushing it against the walls, floor and ceiling will make marks. Watching the ball float and bounce back once it hits a surface is actually quite therapeutic. AA loved it, as he's the more adventurous of the two siblings. Seeing her brother enjoying himself, EV eventually pushed the ball gingerly, but ran off the moment the ball bounced back.

Another exhibit is by Thai artist Krit Ngamsom. To be honest, the marine message of this is not clear. It consists of three displays: Damien, I’m Famished, Bryde’s Fountain and Surrealism SpicedThe most eye catching is one of a shark in an acrylic box, looking like it is breaking free of the box to prey on some fishes.

Imaginarium 7

Then there is another display of neon coloured fishes turning round and round. AA was quite intrigued with the display of a whale with a white fountain on top, instead of a blowhole.

Imaginarium 6

Sure, the little display notices may explain what the various displays are about. However, I think that if the whole exhibition is meant to target kids, then the individual displays should make a more concerted effort to make the displays more understandable and accessible to them. Yes, it’s meant to be open to interpretation, but a bit more guidance might be good to avoid the kids getting distracted and disengaged easily. Which was what happened on the day we visited. EV and AA were asking to move on to the next exhibit more often than in previous years.

Imaginarium 9

The best part I think about the next display Papermoon Puppet Theatre is the engagement of sound and sight. As one listens to the lapping of the waves, one can see long lengths of cloth depicting the moving waves of the sea, which are caused by an unseen wind source somewhere in the room. There are little bottle figurines all around, representing fishermen and the relationship they have with the sea. There are also several random displays, such as one which allows kids to manually turn the lever to change the scene of the story they are listening to.

Imaginarium 10

The one that left the most impression on EV and AA is Plastic Ocean by Singaporean artist Tan Zi Xi. It is a room full of hanging plastic garbage and when one walks in, one can imagine how a marine mammal feels swimming in an ocean that is increasingly filled with rubbish. Once I explained that to EV and AA, I could see the look of realisation in their eyes; they were able to empathise with the marine mammals. 

Imaginarium 8

The trip ended with another visit to the first exhibit Dimana Mogus? (Where is Mogus?), before we headed off to the early Bakery Asanoya for afternoon tea.

While Imaginarium 2016 seemed less engaging as compared to last year, it is more experiential and tried to engage the kids on a deeper level. However, I think that can be done more effectively by making the messages and purpose of the displays more explicit, like what the Plastic Ocean display did. 

Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea
Now till 28 August 
10am to 7pm, Fridays 10am – 9pm
Adults $10, Chldren above six $5, Free for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents
Find out more here.


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  1. Imaginarium this year is very pretty. But I agree, my favourite room is the Plastic Ocean too. It conveyed the message perfectly.

  2. Interesting! I should bring my kids there!
    Vivien ( Beautiful Chaos )

  3. I've seen the pics of other bloggers who gone, wanna bring Bubba there but simply too many things to do!

  4. Oh wow these exhibits are so interesting, especially love the interaction and getting to touch stuff. Will pop by soon, esp since it's free for us!

  5. I've not had the chance to bring the kids. I heard this year's displays are less interactive, but I guess it still warrants a visit?

  6. Indeed, Imaginarium is a great experience - for kids and adults equally. We visited the media launch event. Will go one more time.

  7. Plastic Ocean is really an impactful exhibit as it allows us to see the issue of pollution through the perspective of the sea animals.

  8. I've yet to bring my kids there! The place looks great. Gonna find time to pop by and take a look.

  9. So many enriching activities to bring the kids!


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