Revenge travel is real. For those of us who have the urge to travel but no plans to leave home this June holidays, the National Museum of Singapore’s new travel-themed exhibition may satiate your wanderlust.
Opening on May 27, Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s is a thematic experience inspired by a travel guidebook that offers perspectives about Singapore as a popular tourist destination across two centuries, through the eyes of those who arrived at our shores. Set against the backdrop of Singapore’s colonial past and its post-independence years up to the present, “the exhibition takes visitors through a specially curated selection of close to 600 culture and visual icons ranging from postcards, posters and prints, to travel paraphernalia and everyday objects that explore the way Singapore has presented itself—and been presented—to the world over the years.”
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Here’s what to expect from the immersive showcase.
Step inside and be greeted by the iconic Changi Airport flight information display flip board—displayed publicly for the first time since it was donated to Singapore’s National Collection by the Changi Airport Group in 2020—at the museum’s Rotunda, where you can “check-in” and receive a “boarding pass” to explore “chapters” of a travel guidebook revolving round the themes of transport, accommodation, food and beverage, sights and shopping.
The first stop explores Singapore’s reputation as a global hub, highlighting the island-city’s links to major shipping and aviation routes in the world throughout its history and the evolution of the local transport system. Don’t miss the colourful travel posters and travel brochures from the early 20th century, personal artefacts that offer an intimate glimpse into the travels of those who made their way here via land, sea or rail, and Singapore Airlines’ iconic first-generation Suites cabin seat from its A380 aircraft.
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Places to Stay
Here, you can have a glimpse of various accommodation offerings in Singapore that have shaped travellers’ impressions of the island-city. See how the Raffles Hotel propagated romanticised visions of Singapore as the “Exotic East” in the early 20th century—represented by its iconic doorman uniform that is still in use today—then explore the Marina Bay Sands through its association with Crazy Rich Asians.
This section captures the wide range of food options in our culinary landscape, best exemplified by our hawker culture. Discover a range of kitchen utensils and tools used by hawkers past and present, complemented by an array of kopitiam cups, drinking glasses, soft drink bottles, advertisement trays and restaurant menus from the 1950s to the 2000s.
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Sights and Shopping
From past Singapore Tourism Board posters to memorabilia from Zouk and souvenirs that highlight Singapore’s architectural and visual icons, explore the plethora of sights and entertainment experiences that visitors have included in their itineraries since the late 19th century.
That’s Not All!
Share your travel stories on a limited-edition postcard—reproduced from the National Museum’s collection (with the original on display) and available with a donation to the museum—and send it to anywhere in the world via the Singapore Post mailbox outside the exhibition gallery.
Explore complementary pop-up rooms around the museum’s spaces that further bring some of the elements in the showcase to life—a disco-themed room will open in end-May, while two other transportation and hotel-themed rooms will be introduced later in August together with a theatrical audio tour.
All photos courtesy of the National Museum of Singapore.
Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s opens on May 27 at the National Museum of Singapore.