Sep 7, 2009

Vignettes in Time: Singapore Map and History Through the Centuries

"This exhibition depicts Singapore as seen by cartographers, geologists, mariners, military generals and town planners. Beginning with the arrival of the British from the East India Company, to military strategists of Imperial Japan and postwar city planners, Vignettes in Time provides eclectic snippets of an emergent Singapore seen over the past two centuries."
I visited the much anticipated exhibition on Saturday, September 5. There was an English Tour conducted from 3-4 but I only came to know of it at the NLB building lift lobby. The queue was empty so I went up on my own. I was halfway into the exhibition when the Tour arrived, announced by the crisp voice of the guide. Surprise surprise, the guide was a pretty librarian the curator Lim Chen Sian ("Chen") who was in the exhibition before the group offered to lead the tour.

I was really lucky. According to NLB website, from September to October, a Tour is scheduled every Saturday - four English Tours, three Chinese tours and one Special Curator's Tour in English. I'm guessing Curator Chen will appear in the last one on October 10, but I caught him on September 5!

There is just too much to absorb from the exhibition. According to Chen, the librarian guides were put through a gruelling 5-6 hours of training to prepare them for the role. As visitors, we get to choose the galleries and exhibits to focus on. Here are the five galleries:
  1. Metropolis: The Growth of Modern Singapore 1965 - Present
  2. The Post War Aftermath 1945 - 1965
  3. The Rise and Fall of a Gilded Age 1900 - 1945
  4. 19th Century Origins 1819 - 1900
  5. Obscure Origins Pre - 1819
Here is the floor plan from the pamphlet, so you have an idea how the exhibition is organized:

Note that the galleries are arranged in reverse chronology. This was Chen's plan and I think he is smart. Lim Chen Sian is an archaeologist by training, but he did not follow the conventional chronological arrangement for galleries.

The two star attractions are the Secret Papers of General Utsunomiya on Operation Nanpo and The Earliest Images of Singapore.

If you like Singapore map and history, do head down to the National Library. The exhibition will end 31 October 2009.


Victor said...

Ivan, Wee Kiat and I were at NLB Victoria Street last Thursday at 1 pm and at 4.50 pm. Had wanted to visit the Vignettes In Time exhibition but too bad, we spent all our time in between at Raffles Hotel and at a kopitiam in Purvis Street. :(

Icemoon said...

Haha, you guys really eat, drink and be merry.