The museums in Singapore have begun to reopen in Phase 2.
On 26 June 2020, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore and Asian Civilisations Museum reopened after a hiatus of several months with new safe distancing measures in place.
Three other institutions, the Indian Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall are set to reopen on 3 July 2020.
We paid a National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore and Asian Civilisations Museum a visit on the first day of their reopening to find out what the museum-visiting experience is like and type of safety measures visitors should expect.
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National Museum of Singapore
Greeting visitors to the National Museum of Singapore is a white tent pitched beside the building’s porch. This led to the temperature-taking station and where visitors can use SafeEntry to register their visit.
Once up the front stairs, there is another sign with a QR code for visitors to get contactless tickets. After using the QR code, we proceeded to the ticketing counter to pick up an admission sticker.
The admission sticker was handed to us on a tray. It seems that this is the new standard practice for ticketing staff to hand over admission stickers to visitors in order to minimise contact.
There were very few crowds at the National Museum of Singapore – either because it was a weekday or because people were still cautious about venturing out to the museums.
The sparse crowd made it easy to maintain social distancing as we visited the Singapore History Gallery and various thematic galleries on the second floor.
Markings on the ground denoted where to stand safely apart from others when viewing screens.
Interactive elements around the galleries had also been disabled.
These are all part of the safe management measures that had been put in place.
National Gallery Singapore
Over at National Gallery Singapore, when we visited, the crowd situation was similar to that at National Museum of Singapore. Staff members outnumbered visitors at almost all the galleries.
Signs in red outside individual galleries also indicated the maximum number of visitors allowed inside.
Seats were marked off to enforce safe distancing between visitors.
Even the stairs were marked off with sitting boxes.
National Gallery Singapore normally houses a number of interactive exhibits. For the Gallery’s Phase 2 reopening, these have been closed off.
Most notably, the Keppel Centre for Art Education, a section of the museum for children, remains closed.
Other interactive or high-touch areas such as the City Hall: If Walls Could Talk exhibition and the Rotunda Library are also closed.
Asian Civilisations Museum
By the Singapore River, Asian Civilisations Museum has also reopened. Temperature screening and registration by SafeDistancing is carried out the porch before visitors are allowed inside to pick up an admission sticker.
There weren’t many visitors when we visited. As many of the exhibits at Asian Civilisations Museum are usually appreciated by viewing only, the museum-going experience did not seem too much different from the usual.
The most prominent difference was the bottles of hand sanitizers available around the museum.
Visiting the Museums in Phase 2
It looks like the museums reopening is off to a cautious start. The various safe measurement measures in place, particularly the restriction on the number of persons entering the museums, will definitely help visitors feel safe. In fact, with fewer crowds, there is space to focus on the exhibits on display.
The lack of interactive elements does seem a bit odd at first as interactivity has a trend in museums over recent years. This can make it museum-going experience less engaging for younger children. However, in these peculiar times that we are living in, it is undoubtedly a necessary precaution that needs to be taken.