Lucky for us, Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) doesn’t enforce the closure of museums and galleries in Singapore. Because Changi Chapel and Museum has officially reopened with a renewed prisoner of war (POW) exhibition.
Now offering eight multimedia galleries displaying over 100 artefacts, the museum continues to showcase the lived experiences of internees during our country’s Japanese Occupation.
Across these enhanced galleries, visitors can not only expect antiques and artworks, but also an immersive experience created by the museum to convey personal stories of POWs incarcerated by Japanese soldiers at Changi prison camp, otherwise known as Changi Gaol.
The exhibition begins with a brief history of Changi, presenting its transition from a swamp and forest to an architecture the British used for their soldiers. It then proceeds to encapsulate the fall of British soldiers as well as local and international civilians to the Japanese; before escalating into the lives of POWs at Changi Gaol and settling into the aftermath of Japan’s surrender.
Key highlights here include the fourth and sixth exhibitions. At the former, museum-goers get a glimpse of the day-to-day lives of those imprisoned, along with remnants of the actual Changi Gaol cell. The latter, on the other hand, presents various forms of the POW’s creative expressions despite circumstances.
Should visitors desire a hands-on experience, they can also step into a recreated Changi Gaol cell. Besides receiving a feel of the cramped living conditions, guests will be able to hear historical recordings of conversations between internees, and learn about the oppressive Japanese rule.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for interesting artefacts. One-third of those are donated and loaned from the public, including a never-before-seen 400-page diary and a Kodak Baby Brownie camera. So let’s see if you can find ‘em.
Changi Chapel and Museum reopened May 19. More information available here.