I have been thinking of visiting the Treasures of the World exhibition but haven't been able to do it. I was delighted to find out that it's been extended till 3 July, and in fact, was contemplating of visiting it myself.
Then last week when we visited Masak Masak 2016, EV expressed interest to see the Treasures, which was a surprise. I was even more delighted to know that they have tours every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for families and kids aged 6 years and above. I enquired more and find out that kids are allowed, but they should avoid running between the exhibits. This means that AA would not be able to go.
So on Tuesday, EV and I headed to the National Museum of Singapore again and attended the 1030am tour. We were a little early, so we wandered inside the exhibition for a bit first. The tour was hosted by a very knowledgeable volunteer from Friends of the Museum, who brought everyone on a time traveling adventure around the world to see the various myths, legends and and beliefs of the many different cultures. There are other themes that the tours focus on, such as Technology and Innovation, Faces and Masks and Fashion and Adornment, and participants will only know on the day itself.
Our tour started with a explanation of the centrepiece of the exhibition, which occupied it's very own space in the exhibition. It is a stone axe, which dates back to 800,000 years ago and was found in a particular part of Africa (if I remember correctly). The fact that this axe, which had to be crafted by using other tools to give it its shape and sharpness, existed so many years ago, and in a single area shows that the human brain then was already much developed. It's an artifact that's older than any of the others on display and represents human development and culture, before all the other artifacts were made.
From the bright hall, we made our way into the dark exhibition hall and it's understandable why it is not suitable for younger kids. The place is quite dark, with spotlights strategically shining on the artifacts. The dark environment makes one speak in whispers instinctively, and the gloomy mood can be a little frightening to kids at first. No wonder EV was a bit apprehensive, but soon got over it once she saw the mummy. She had earlier read a book about Egypt at home, and had a little idea of what it is.
I think EV found the mummy rather interesting, especially when it is that of an adolescent boy. She asked how old he was and how he died, but she was most intrigued by the shading counter nearby. There are small tiles with engravings of various artifacts on the counter, which can be shaded on to a paper using pencil.
The nice thing about this exhibition is the inclusion of activities such as this and big notice boards that make the exhibition more hands-on and interesting for kids. Sometimes, I think, even adults would have fun doing all these.
What I personally found interesting is a ‘unlucky’ painted wooden mummy board, or coffin lid, of a woman. Apparently, it is cursed and caused much death and disasters, such as the sinking of the Titanic. According to the guide, there is no basis to all these myths, but definitely, the reputation surrounding the board has intrigued many, including me, such that I returned home, and read whatever I could about this interesting board.
So we continued with our tour, which lasted about an hour. EV followed eagerly, always making sure that she was up front, paying attention to the guide. She saw this huge welcoming figure...
a little round device that can do over 500 things, such as maths calculations and tell the time...
a war warrior from Hawaii.
and a huge tapestry made of recycled materials such as bottle caps.
However, I could see that she was starting to lose focus as the tour progressed. Still, she persevered till the very end, and even said a very sweet ‘thank you’ to the guide.
My little girl was famished after the tour, so we made a little detour for lunch at Food For Thought. Along the way up, we saw the Toysaurse display which is part of the Masak Masak exhibition and was under construction on the day we visited. EV took one purple recycled toy and added it to the display, contributing to the ever-changing display that is constantly under construction.
After lunch, we returned to Treasures of the World to look at other exhibits that were not covered by the tour, and also for me to clarify any doubts EV may have after the tour. This time, she was intrigued by a clock that was made during the time of Elizabeth I, and also of an engraving bearing a likeness of the queen.
and tried to measure how big one of the huge figurine is...
At the area about China, she recognized the name Qin Shi Huang when I mentioned it during my explanations about artifacts from that period. Her kindergarten was doing a theme about China and had learnt about the emperor and other related historical facts, such as the Great Wall and terracotta warriors.
There was one thing that the tour guide mentioned, which I felt was quite significant, and which I repeated to EV. The difference between a thing and a treasure is that a treasure carries with it a story, a story about the people who created it, their culture and their history. In explaining to EV, I used things that she was familiar with, such as her journal and my mobile phone. I wanted her to realise that there are stories all around us, every day and everywhere, and by using daily items that she can relate to, I think she got the idea.
I think that the Treasures of the World exhibition was quite well put together, presenting the history around the world in a nutshell. It’s a good introduction, and for those who want to explore more, they can find the opportunity to head to the British Museum in London. Hopefully, I do get the chance to someday to see the other 10,000 artifacts there, maybe when the kids are older.
Leaving the Treasures of the World exhibition, we headed to the Singapore History Gallery one level up. Stay tuned for our sharing.
If you haven’t visited the Treasures of the World exhibition, do so soon, before it ends on 3 July Sunday
Treasures of the World from the British Museum
Now till 3 July
10am – 7pm
For citizens & permanent residents
Free for children under the age of 6, students & senior citizens
For non-citizens & non-permanent residents
Senior Citizens $16
Find out more here.