Art and Science Fuse In Singapore

BY VIVIENNE KHOO
Mar 23, 2011
*Special to asia!

The left-brain / right-brain concept has made way for the ArtScience fusion celebrated in the latest private museum in Singapore.

 

“Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World” was organized by the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibition takes visitors on an amazing journey of the extensive interconnected network of trade routes spanning East, South and Western Asia amongst other areas bringing to life the Silk Road’s significant contribution towards commerce, the arts and the sciences.

It begins with three life-size camel models loaded with goods set against a 120-foot long mural depicting a landscape of sand dunes.

The Silk Road exhibit is a multi-sensory experience. A scent machine loaded with cartridges releases the smells of patchouli, jasmine and rosewater at different points along the way.

Visitors will be taken through time to the ancient cities of Asia and the Middle East between AD 600 and 1200.

Such rich sights, sounds and smells are to be had at each stop along the way: the silk worms of Xi’an, the furs and spices of the Turfan market, papermaking in Samarkand and the life-size model of a 22-metre dhow, in the Baghdad section.

The dhow is impressive because it carries earthen jars which served as the “containers” of that time. These jars were filled with goods such as porcelain ware for example, which would not do well bouncing on a camel’s back.

There is a soundscape complete with snorting camels and haggling merchants. Visitors can take home recipe cards for a spice date treat that travellers might have snacked on along the Silk Road, so even the sense of taste will be satisfied after the museum visit.

 

514 Museum director Tom Zaller said this museum is different because it has a larger proportion of travelling exhibitions than permanent ones.

 

The three exhibitions are interwoven in that Genghis Khan’s conquest of most of Asia ensured the safety of the travellers along the Silk Road, the Silk Road was the information superhighway that brought the East and West closer and the shipwreck cargo was evidence of a “maritime Silk Route” between China and the Middle East.

In the months ahead, the ArtScience Museum’s 12 galleries will be filled with enough artefacts, scale models and interactive touch screens to keep anyone occupied for a whole morning or afternoon.

The $30 per adult ($27 per senior, $12 per child) entrance fee may seem a trifle steep compared to the other museums in Singapore but it is comparable to entrance fees to museums around the world such as the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. The quality of the exhibits makes the argument for the high price.

In my opinion it’s well worth the money. The ArtScience Museum has gained a fan in me and I am willing to bet that it will be embraced by Singaporeans and visitors as they discover it contains the stuff that dreams are made of.

So much more than the flower in the hair of that showgirl, the Marina Bay Sands, it is a time travel capsule in which the past, present and the future are fused seamlessly.

 

All photos by Vivienne Khoo

vivienne khooOnce a lifestyle editor at a website, a newspaper journalist and a food editor, Vivienne Khoo writes about luxury hotels, food and travel whenever she is not sub-editing. The perfume industry and essential oils are her pet topics at the moment.

Contact Vivienne

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