What to expect at the new interactive travel-themed exhibition at National Museum of Singapore

The exhibition, titled ‘Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore Through Travel, 1800s - 2000s’, will be open to the public till Nov 19.

Chloe Tham

Chooses to watch the same three movies in rotation instead of catching a new one.

Published: 23 May 2023, 2:34 PM

Editor’s note: The Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s exhibition has been extended till Feb 25, 2024, the organisers said on Aug 10.

Interactive digital kiosks with lounge music and a disco room are just some of the installations at National Museum of Singapore’s latest travel-themed exhibition.

Titled Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore Through Travel, 1800s – 2000s, the showcase will feature over 600 artefacts about how Singapore has been presented to and perceived by travellers over the last few milleniums.

Drawing inspiration from travel brochures, the exhibition is structured around four key themes – Getting Around, Places To Stay, Eating Out and Sights & Shopping.


Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore Through Travel, 1800s – 2000s will be divided into four parts, exploring Singapore as a popular travel destination. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHLOE THAM


The first part of the exhibition, Getting Around, explores the different methods that people used to make their way around Singapore. Significant artefacts include a trishaw and a variety of colourful train tickets that were issued to commuters in the 1980s.

A showcase of various accommodation offerings for past travellers, such as hotels, are situated further into the exhibition.

One hotel that was popular among travellers in the “Golden Age of Travel” – during the late 1800s and early 1900s – is the Raffles Hotel. Uniforms worn by guards of the Raffles Hotel, who were most commonly Sikhs, are featured in the second section of the exhibition, Places To Stay.


A trishaw, a popular mode of transportation in Singapore in the 1920s (left) and Raffles Hotel uniforms worn by guards since the 1990s (right). PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHLOE THAM


After the Places To Stay segment, Singapore’s culinary landscape – past and present – is on display at the Eating Out segment. Visitors will get insight to the history of food peddling and the ever-evolving hawker culture.

They can also expect to see an array of kopitiam (coffeeshop) cups and trays, restaurant menus and advertisement signboards used between the 1960s to 2000s.

Souvenirs from various attractions, entertainment, and retail offerings such as Orchard Road, Sentosa, Zouk and Haw Par Villa are displayed at the final section of the exhibition, Sights & Shopping.

This section features a screen where visitors can interact with to pose to simulate being in the dancefloor of a nightlife franchise.

Visitors will be given “boarding passes” with scannable barcodes at the entrance of the exhibition to try out the digital kiosks located within the gallery.


An array of kopitiam cups and trays (left) and original neon signs from The Neptune and Zouk, popular entertainment destinations (right). PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHLOE THAM


A disco pop-up room will also be open for visitors to experience some of the elements of the showcase.

Visitors will have to scan their barcodes and choose the level of difficulty for the minute-long dance they want to try in the room. Videos of the dance will be sent to their emails after the experience.


The entertainment room is inspired by the discotheques in Singapore. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CHLOE THAM


Interactive spaces for children to learn more about food will also launch on the same weekend. This is inspired by the Eating Out section of the exhibition.

Titled Get Curious! All About Food, young visitors will get to learn how to buy and prepare food, while learning how Singapore’s food identity has evolved from war times to present day.

Two other transportation and hotel-themed pop-ups aligned with the theme of the exhibition will be introduced in August, together with a theatrical audio tour.

The exhibition is located in the basement of the National Museum of Singapore and will be open from 10am to 7pm from May 27 to Nov 19. Last entry to the exhibition is at 6:30pm.

Admission is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, while tickets are priced at $18 for tourists and foreign residents.

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