Saturday, March 26, 2011

Art Science Museum @ Marina Bay Sands

When the Singapore government decided to open 2 casinos in the city state, there was a lot of opposition from different fractions of the society.  To make the opposing voices happy, the Singapore put in a condition to the casinos that they must have some family or art/science elements to their Integrated Resorts, which practically are, casinos.  And then here it is, do you see that distinctive lotus-like structure in front of the Marina Bay Sands buildings?  That's the new Art Science Museum.

It has that comtemporary transparent glass entrance.

Currently there are three exhibitions on-going at the museum, namely (1) Genghis Khan, (2) Shipwrecked - Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds and (3) Traveling the Silk Road.

I will share with you my journey over the 3 exhibitions.

1. Genghis Khan

Right at the entrance to Genghis Khan exhibition, sits this once all mighty ruler of half of the world.  The two brooms on his two sides are the Mongol's religion's flags to attract the spirits of their god.  The white broom for peace, and the black for war.

Here is a map of the Mongol Empire, is your country once under Genghis Khan's rule?

In display, there is this interesting object as YaoPai (腰į‰Œ) in Chinese, which is basically a metal plate with words.  It serves as a kind of passport in those ancient days for the Mongol official and generals to pass through different parts of the vast empire to carry out their duties.

And you can also see the mails wore by the soldiers.  Don't you think it looks very similar to those you see in Europe?

And some interesting musical instruments too.

The exhibition is called 'Genghis Khan', but it is not really centred around this one person.  Rather it is centered around the rise of the Mongol Empire.  The artifacts on display are mostly replicas, instead of real antiques passed down from the past.

The captions of the exhibits are in English and Chinese, but the Chinese caption is done very poorly.  Mistakes are easily spotted and sometimes makes you wonder how trust worthy this exhibition is.

Example, the 'Coronation of Genghis Khan' has been 'translated' to something like Genghis Khan's family has been wronged.

2. Shipwrecked  - Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds

This is about the discovery of a ship wreck off Indonesia coast and the treasures unveiled.  The ship is thought to be plying the Silk Road on the sea from China's Guangzhou to Persian Gulf.  The treasures discovered in the shipwreck include many Chinese potteries, gold, silver, and other treasures.

This big big water bottle is one of the treasures uncovered.  It is tall with very fine details.  The style is elegant.

Another piece is this bowl.  Do you see that yellow dragon playing in the white and green waters?  Do you think it is lively?

And then to me, the most prized treasure is this cup.  It has a small fish at the bottom of the cup.  Just imagine when you pour water into the cup, don't you think the fish will look like it is swimming in your cup?  How creative our ancestors were!

Other treasures include gold and silver ware.

This exhibition is quite eye-opening in the sense that you would never expect a Tang Dynasty merchant ship would carry so much goods, and they are all so elegant.  World trade was so active in those days, even compare with today's world trade.

Oh, I forgot to mention, of course there were a lot of other not so valuable goods were carried on board the ship too.

Hundreds, or thousands of average quality bowls were carried on ship too.  However, the potters must be people of good sense of humour, as what they drew and wrote to deco the bowls are fun.

3. Traveling the Silk Road

Just finished taking a peek in the Silk Road on the sea, then we move on to take a look at the Silk Road on land, starting from China's Xi'an, the capital city during Tang Dynasty, and end at ?  Somewhere in today's Middle East or Europe.

Silk Road, of course it is about the Silk trade.  Didn't know the technology to make Silk had been a closely guarded secret of the Chinese for centuries.

And whenever you mention Silk Road on land, you can never not to mention camels :)  And the happy silk traders.

Of the 3 exhibitions, I think shipwreck is the best, while the other two are a bit too pale in comparison in terms of the number of exhibits and quality of the exhibits.

Admission to the Art Science Museum is SGD$30.00.  You can get a 20% discount if you pay with OCBC credit cards, which is SGD$24.60 (with GST).  I think it is a bit pricy for the kind of exhibitions, but then it is a for profit museum, so nothing to say.

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