Transportation fans are having a field day. Besides sports- and transport-themed Singapore Heritagefest 2023 and Alliance Française de Singapour’s exhibition on French transport, there is now National Museum of Singapore’s newest showcase that traces Singapore’s evolving identity through travel.
From May 27, 2023 to Feb 25, 2024, travel back in time at Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s. It offers perspectives about Singapore as a popular destination for travellers across two centuries, through the eyes of those who arrived at our shores from past to present.
Set against the backdrop of Singapore’s colonial past and its post-independence decades up to the present, the immersive showcase takes visitors through a specially curated selection of close to 600 cultural and visual icons, from postcards and posters, to travel paraphernalia and everyday objects.
Visitors are first greeted by the iconic Changi Airport flight information display flip board at the museum’s Rotunda. Standing close to 5.3-metre tall, the flip board invites visitors to “check-in” to receive a “boarding pass” to enter and discover the exhibition’s key “chapters”.
These four chapters akin to a travel guidebook revolve around themes of transport, accommodation, food, and sights and shopping. The first section, Getting Around, explores Singapore’s reputation as a global hub via the different modes of international arrival. Besides posters and brochures, there are personal artefacts that poignantly give an intimate glimpse into the travels of those who made their way here via land, sea or rail.
Places to Stay investigates how various accommodation offerings in Singapore shaped travellers’ impressions of the island-city. Learn how hotels in the 20th century propagated romanticised visions of Singapore as the “Exotic East” – Raffles Hotel’s iconic doorman uniform is one example.
Eating Out captures the wide range of food options in the country. See the range of kitchen utensils and tools used by hawkers past and present; get nostalgic with vintage kopitiam cups, drinking glasses and soft drink bottles; and browse through the menus of iconic restaurants from the 1950s to 2000s.
Finally, Sights and Shopping introduces visitors to the various attractions, entertainment, and retail offerings that make our nation a fun and vibrant lifestyle destination. The old Zouk signage makes an appearance, together with souvenirs that depict the plethora of sights and entertainment experiences.
Don’t miss the interactive pop-up rooms. For now, get your groove on at the disco room (and receive a video of yourself dancing). Two other transportation and hotel-themed rooms will be introduced later, together with a theatrical audio tour.
Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s runs from May 27, 2023 to Feb 25, 2024. For more information, visit go.gov.sg/nowboarding.
All photos courtesy of National Museum of Singapore.