Think you’re all cool and hipster, running around taking medium-format photos with your twin-reflex 35mm camera from Lomography? You’ve not met steel trader Solaiyappan Ramanathan and his cousin (and artist) A.P. Shreethar. They’ve taken their love and passion for photography to a whole new level by opening Singapore’s first and largest repository of cameras, the Vintage Camera’s Museum Singapore.
Just by looking at the building—whose facade is actually a replica of a Rollei camera, earning the museum the title “world’s biggest camera shaped building”—you can tell how passionate these two are. Ramanathan took an interest in cameras because his father was a passionate photographer.
His cousin on the other hand, a painter who has put on 68 shows over 14 years, always felt that cameras were his “enemies” because the demand for realistic paintings dropped with the invention of cameras. But instead of shunning his “enemy”, he decided to sort of glorify them by putting them on display. They then began on a long journey with this new hobby—about 20 years—to collect more than 7,000 cameras.
The museum houses about 1,000 different cameras, ranging from a replica of the huge super old school Mammoth camera to newer ones like a cutting-edge 11-gram camera. But apart from all the conventional ones used in the past, the museum also displays rare and novel ones like a walking stick camera, spy cameras, pigeon cameras, 3D cameras, pistol cameras and others. But besides the display of cameras, they’re also showcasing a rare collection of photos that depict interesting facets of photography, including an authentic replica of the first photograph that was ever taken.
Going beyond being just a museum displaying vintage cameras, Ramanathan also told us over the phone that they have three short documentaries that visitors can watch, one detailing the evolution and journey of cameras thus far, another that features the pigeon camera (or what could possibly be considered the world’s first drone camera) and the last one featuring the Minox Camera, also famously known as the spy camera that has often been used in espionage and in Hollywood detective thrillers of yesteryears.
The Vintage Camera’s Museum Singapore is located at 8C-8D Jalan Kledek, and is open daily from 10:30am-9:30pm. Admission is $20 for adults. Here’s what you can expect: