Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas at the Asian Civilisations Museum traces the historical trade links that connected Asia to the Americas and Europe.
This exhibition is spread out over three galleries at the Asian Civilisations Museum and features over 140 objects from the 16th to the 20th century. It also highlights how the movement of people, goods, and ideas between the Philippines and Mexico created a distinctive shared cultural and artistic heritage even though the two countries are so far apart.
On display at the exhibition are rare objects on loan from international partners. These include precious silverware and silks to Chinese porcelain and Japanese lacquer, many presented for the first time in Singapore.
Tree of Life
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At the first gallery, directly above the entrance foyer of the museum, is a large-scale work that showcases the Tree of Life, a visual representation of the ties between the present generation to the preceding ones.
There is also a children’s space where kids can do some art.
Also available are books for kids that explore anthropology.
Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas Exhibition Main Gallery
The main gallery for Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas is located at the rear of the museum’s second floor.
Step inside to learn about the trade that flowed between the Americas and Asia between 1565 to 1815 when enormous ships called galleons sailed annually across the Pacific from Manila to Acapulco, carrying porcelain, silk, spices, and other goods.
The first section of the exhibition gallery looks at the origins of goods and ideas that can now be easily found in Southeast Asia, from natural produce such as chocolate to the introduction of the Christian faith.
Coins, chests, and other objects show how silver carried by the galleons became the first global currency.
Then take a look at how silver became the currency of trade with inflows from the Americas into Asia.
The exhibits include displays of maps, archaeological sherds, and chinaware. Export porcelain, portable furniture, paintings and textiles were just some of the objects that travelled between Asia, the Americas, and Europe.
Through the use of a large interactive screen, visitors can also try to imagine what life must have been like travelling on a galleon.
The last section of the special exhibition looks at how the galleon trade influenced artistic expression in fashion, textiles, and accessories well into the 19th century.
This is represented through fashion items that crossed the oceans, for example, embroidered silk shawls, known as mantónes de Manila (Manila shawls) which became popular in Spain.
The last gallery is on the ground floor.
Here, there is a contemporary art piece that invites visitors to reflect on the galleons facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas across the Pacific Ocean.
Digital Activity Trail
Visitors to Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas, especially children, will want to do the digital activity trail, which is available for free.
Using a webapp on the phone, visitors can scan QR codes throughout the exhibit. These contain information about the exhibits and, to make it especially engaging for children, a set of mini games.
There are a total of 10 mini games and we liked how the games served as opportunities to engage with the artefacts on display at the Manila Galleon exhibition.
The mini games included spot-the-image puzzles, sorting puzzles and more. They were fun ways to learn about the artefacts on display. We appreciated how the puzzles encouraged us to explore the different exhibits. It is a fun way to learn.
There is also a competitive element the digital trail. You will receive coins for completing the mini games. Accumulate a set number of coins to redeem a gift at the end of the trail.
However, the number of coins you receive will also depend on how well you complete the tasks.
There are three levels of accomplishment – bronze, silver and gold. The higher the tier you achieve, the better the gift you can redeem.
This digital activity trail is suitable for all ages.
We hope that other exhibitions will also be able to do similar trails, especially for kids.
In addition, families can pick up an activity booklet that they can use as they make their way around the exhibition.
Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas at Asian Civilisations Museum
Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas is now on till 17 March 2024. It is a ticketed exhibition.
From now till 31 December 2023, wear bold, vibrant colours, florals, or traditional Piña outfits to enjoy discounted entry to Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas. Terms and conditions apply.
Find out more about Manila Galleon: From Asia to the Americas.
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