Your favourite Singapore museums have swung their doors wide open to kids with ‘Children’s Season’, a range of innovative programmes encouraging exploration and play this summer.
Children’s Season, an annual series of dedicated children’s exhibitions and interactive activities co-organised by National Heritage Board and Museum Roundtable, opened on 28 May and I had a chance to preview two museums’ exhibitions—Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Missing Mouse at Asian Civilizations Museum (ACM) and Masak Masak at National Museum of Singapore (NMS).
The ACM’s show centres around a large, colourful maze in the museum’s Learning Gallery. Here, children begin their “search” for the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha’s best friend, Mr. Mouse, and continue to do so in the museum’s other galleries. Along the way, children encounter other animal characters—both real and mythical—in the museum’s collection. The exhibition is based on ACM’s first children’s book, The Missing Mouse by museum educator Melissa Viswani, which recently placed second in the Samsung KidsTime Authors’ Award at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016.
Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Missing Mouse is a wonderful introduction to the museum’s impressive collection of artefacts. Children and their caregivers are encouraged to explore the museum in search of Mr. Mouse, and the exhibit’s strong narrative (drawn from the storybook) gives their adventures a structure, which allows for deep engagement and high interest. And my kiddo loves Ganesha, so Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Missing Mouse was really special for her!
Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Missing Mouse closes on Sunday, 11 September, 2016. ACM suggests the exhibition is suitable for 7- to 12-year-olds; however, in my opinion, The Missing Mouse skews much younger, and is perfect for the 4- to 6-year-old set. I imagine a 12-year-old would get rather bored here.
Masak Masak is an exhibition of six site-specific installations, rather than a guided tour through the museum’s permanent collection like Once Upon a Time in Asia: The Missing Mouse is. Masak Masak explores themes of play with games and toys, and features works not only by established artists from Singapore and elsewhere, but also showcases games and toys by students from the School of the Arts and NUS Division of Industrial Design.
Of note, and of particular interest to my little one, were Let’s Play! by Tay Been Aye and School of the Arts, a life-sized, three-dimensional representation of Snakes and Ladders and Ludo, her current favourite board games, and La Bestiaire by a team of French artists, an imaginary zoo of marvellous and monstrous animals. To accompany the latter installation, children and their caregivers are invited to create an animal costume inspired by the creatures found in La Bestiaire.
Later in June, Toyaurse by Hiroshi Fuji, a large-scale installation of several dinosaur-like creatures, all built from discarded toys, will open to the public. Toyaurse explores themes of childhood and its material possessions, and museum-goers are invited to contribute their own pre-loved toys to the existing installation.
Masak Masak closes on Sunday, 31 July, 2016.
In addition to ACM and NMS, Children’s Season will be offering a wide range of different programmes at museums across Singapore, including the much-anticipated Shaking it with Shakespeare exhibition at Singapore Philatelic Museum, which will be on through 26 June.
For more information about special programming to be held in conjunction with the museums’ programming, visit each museum’s website. For more information about Children’s Season, including information about The Philatelic Museum’s offerings, visit www.museums.com.sg/cs16.
Children’s Season, www.facebook.com/ILoveMuseums