Mission and vision in Singapore
It was a great privilege to work in Singapore in 2019 on a new mission and vision for the National Philatelic Museum as it moves into an exciting period of development. It has big plans for the future, including a new focus on a young audience, all-new exhibitions and a new role in the family of museums in Singapore.
As well as reimagining the stories that the museum’s collections can tell, the in-house team spent time thinking about ways in which the new museum can support children and adults to enjoy time together as they learn.
The team, led by Tresnawati Prihadi who had seen my previous work with the Postal Museum in London, is keen to offer local and tourist families a fresh experience of experiential learning, based in the charming and compact museum building.
I stayed in the work/live space Lyf, part of the refurbished Funan Mall, which meant I had access to Singapore style late-night shopping and dining – and of course it was brilliant having my husband’s family nearby to relax with, too.
I also visited the new Chinatown Heritage Centre which, with stories of struggle and hope, gives voice to members of the Chinese communities who first settled in Singapore during the 19th and 20th centuries, some escaping famine in China. Located in three side-by-side shophouses typical in Southeast Asia, the museum recreates the rooms that each housed a family, the adults going out to work to mend shoes, hawk food, or sell clothes. At the back was the tiny shared kitchen with a bathroom behind a screen. There were letters written to and from family members in China, and stories of how a community became established, despite hardship and danger. The personal accounts were tremendously powerful and moving, and even more so because of the links with my husband’s family.