Thursday, 23 July 2015

Singapore City Gallery

 An Invitation 
I walked around Marina Bay one cloudy day (the only days to do walking), it was then I discovered Marina Bay's City Gallery.

I didn't discover the Gallery myself, it was pointed out by Merlion (or Merly. No, you can't shorten Merlion to Merly because Merly is the mascot of Singapore Youth Olympics).

Merlion, Singapore
Merlion pointed the way

Merly, Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010, Singapore Lyo, Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010, Singapore

Merly (like one of my teen friend) has blue hair, but Lyo, the male counterpart of the inaugural 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games mascot has red hair (aka ang moh. So Merlion and Lyo are both Irish?). In fact, the Merlion who gave me direction to the Gallery looks like a cousin of Lyo (Lyo has bigger mouth). I'm not surprise, they're both Singaporean...products of imagination.


 Marina Bay City Gallery 
So I proceeded to the Gallery as indicated by Lyo's lookalike.

Marina Bay City Gallery, Singapore
City Gallery adorned with "The Kites of Unity".
There he's again at the bottom right corner of the photo. He must be living around Marina Bay.

As soon as I entered, I saw a model of the city of Singapore. The flashy model was animated by multimedia lights and narration.

Model, Marina Bay City Gallery, Singapore


Model, Marina Bay City Gallery, Singapore
Helicopter view of Marina Bay



Unfortunately, this museum was shut down about 6 months after my visit. No, I didn't jinx it (quite sure it was unintentional). I think it's because the City Gallery in Marina Bay was built for the tourists in mind. Judging from the visitors number, it wasn't sustainable. If you look at the youtube above, you don't see a single person standing around the model. I was the only visitor there.

On the other hand, the City Gallery in Chinatown is catered for locals like school students, college students, and even architects, not to mention tourists (the Gallery is literally a stone throw away from the main tourist sites of Chinatown). And it was reasonably busy (not crowded) while I was there. It's a big place.

I didn't realise then that the photos I had taken now belongs to the museum.



 Ministry of National Development 
Since I walked to URA building where Singapore City Gallery locates from Tanjong Pagar MRT station, I would naturally walk past its immediate neighbour MND (Ministry of National Development) building.

MND is parent of URA. In other words, MND gave rise to URA. So they're logically locates next to one another. When I walked past MND and saw the following wine-bottle opener looking sculpture, I said to myself that there maybe something displays inside for the public to see. So I went in for a looksee.

"Reaching" Sculpture, MND, Singapore
Majulah Singapura insignia, MND, Singapore
Left: "Reaching" by Sun Yuli outside
Top: Majulah Singapura "Onward Singapore", a national anthem, in the lobby.

Once inside the lobby, I found out the new home for the Singapore's city model that was displayed in Marina Bay City Gallery. I'm guessing, but I'm sure it is. That's really the logical place for it. The Singapore City Galery next-door already has similar models.

Unlike the solid wooden models that housed in URA next door, part of this model is built with some kind of transparent perspex that allows light to show through from below.


Model,  Marina Bay, MND, Singapore

Model,  Marina Bay, MND, Singapore

Model,  Sports Hub, MND, Singapore


MND is an office building, and so there's nothing else to see except this "heritage" model of Singapore from Marina Bay City Gallery.



 Singapore City Gallery (Formerly URA Gallery) 
It was formerly called URA Gallery because the Gallery is inside URA building.

This place houses the 3 large models that are the star attractions of the Gallery: the City Centre Model, Central Area Model and Islandwide Model.

City Centre Model

This model are made from mostly wood and covers city area around Marina Bay. It locates on the ground floor.

City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
City Centre Model (Scale 1:1000)

Orchard Road, City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Focus on Marina Bay Sands, City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Top:  View towards Marina Bay Sands with Fort Canning Park in the foreground
Left:  Orchard Road

Marina Bay, City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Marina Bay: the touristy area of Singapore Flyer, ArtScience Museum, Sands Hotel and Gardens by the Bay.


Central Area Model

It covers an area slightly larger than the City Centre Model above to include area like Sports Hub, Chinatown, and Bugis. It locates on 2nd floor.

Central Area Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Central Area Model (Scale 1:400)               North

Orchard Road, City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Sports Hub, City Centre Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Top:  Sports Hub in the foreground. 400x scaled up people in the background.
Left:  Orchard Rd.


Islandwide Model

Covers nearly the whole of Singapore city-state, gives a good overall view of the contour of the landforms of the island and its vegetation distributions.


Islandwide Model,  Singapore City Gallery, Singapore
Islandwide Model

While these 3 pretty models hog all the spotlights, especially for people who only have casual interests in architecture. For those who are more keen in city planning and architectures in general, there's so much to see, you could easily spend half a day here.

For those who come to gawk at the beautiful models, you need less than an hour. I only spend an hour there getting a helicopter view of Gallery, flying reconnaissance mission over the 3 big models with my eyes. I surely will do more visits in the future. There're also temporary exhibits, which I'll visit when they have new displays.

It's fair to say that the Singapore public housing and urban planning plays in no small part in the success story of this city-state. And Singapore is known in the world for this achievement. For those who wish to understand this aspect of Singapore history, this gallery can help. But it isn't just about where Singapore had been, but more importantly, where Singapore is heading to. You may find some answers here.

There're many other things to see and do, but I'll leave that for another blog time, another blog visit.

Admission is free. Who can complain?




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