Malay Heritage Centre is getting its first multisensory children’s space, Adventures in Nusantara. Inspired by three stories from Singapore and the region’s past, the space encourages children to learn about history through imaginative role-play.
Adventures in Nusantara caters to children between 3 and 6 years old. It is designed to complement the Malay Heritage Centre’s special exhibition Seekor Singa, Seorang Putera & Sebingkai Cermin: Reflecting & Refracting Singapura.
Nusantara refers to the Malay Archipelago and the three characters presented at the play space were deliberately chosen from the region to be relatable to children. They are Hang Nadim, Ali Wallace and Wah Hakim.
Hang Nadim – The Story of Bukit Merah
Better known as the boy in the legend of how Bukit Merah or Redhill got its name, Hang Nadim was a 7-year-old boy whose village was attacked by swordfish (which today’s historians now say were more likely to be garfish).
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He came up with a plan to stop the attacks but that only made the Sultan jealous. According to the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), Hang Nadim met his unfortunate demise at the hands of assassins and his blood flowed down the hill, staining it red.
This legend is captured at Malay Heritage Centre’s Adventures in Nusantara in the form of a red “hill” that features a tunnel for kids to crawl through.
Ali Wallace – Local Guide
Ali Wallace was a 15-year-old boy from Sarawak, Borneo. If the second part of his name sounds familiar, it is because his boss was explorer and naturalist Alfred Wallace.
When Alfred Wallace was making his expeditions across the Malay Archipelago, he needed a local helper. Wallace’s journals mention Ali who travelled with him for six years and may have played a part in collecting the many specimens in the Wallace Collection.
The children’s play space inspired by Ali Wallace invites kids to imagine that they are also explorers, encountering the natural world around them.
Wah Hakim – Eyewitness to History
Wah Hakim was 15 years old when he saw Raffles landing in Singapore in 1819. He would later provide an account of Raffles and Farquhar’s meeting at the Temenggong’s house and the discussion over the treaty that established an East India Company outpost in Singapore.
At Adventures in Nusantara, children can re-enact these events on an activity board.
A Play Space for Children – Adventures In Nusantara at Malay Heritage Centre
These play areas allow children to interact with these tales from the past through active play. In addition to the play areas, a cosy nook in the form of a kampong hut has been setup at the children’s space. Stocked with children’s books, it will also be used for activities such as storytelling sessions.
A trio of activity booklets, one for each of characters, will also be available at the Malay Heritage Centre. These contain activities to allow children of different ages to engage in each character’s story.
Adventures in Nusantara is a collaboration between the Malay Heritage Centre and The Ground Co Limited, a registered arts charity that manages The Artground. It will accompany the Seekor Singa, Seorang Putera & Sebingkai Cermin: Reflecting & Refracting Singapura exhibition, which runs from 12 October 2019 till 21 June 2020.