October 6th, 2011
Author: Walter Lim
Southeast Asia’s exciting maritime past comes alive this 15 October with the opening of Singapore’s first maritime museum. Known as the Maritime Experiential Museum & Acquarium (MEMA), the attraction at Resorts World Sentosa features more than 400 rare objects including the Jewel of Muscat (a life-sized reproduction of a 9th century Arab dhow), and treasures from the Belitung Shipwreck. Designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, an international museum design firm, the museum depicts the romance of a bygone era with tales of seafarers braving the stormy seas along the Maritime Silk Route.
Set in the 15th century, the museum’s centrepiece revolves around the story of legendary Admiral Zheng He who launched many maritime voyages from China to the Western oceans with a fleet of 300 shops. Through highly interactive features and realistic replicas, the stories of exotic lands and seas from the past comes alive.
Join me on a visual tour and let’s “brave” the seven seas together!
A life-sized replica of the bow of the Bao Chuan, Admiral Zheng He’s legendary treasure ship, dominates the cavernous interior of the museum.
A cross-section of the vessel. Apparently, Zheng He did bring back wild animals from Africa to China. My first thought however was that it looked like Noah’s Ark!
Miniature Chinese junks “sailing” on steel wires.
More experiential decor, to create the right oriental mood and feel.
Interactives like this table top game helps to engage visitors young and old, while teaching them about our Maritime heritage.
Guess why this Malay couple here never need to eat, sleep or rest. (Clue: they don’t blink either)
Coffee beans, grains, spices and other precious cargo were hauled from far away exotic lands to mainland China.
A Vietnamese water puppet stage complete with puppets.
This snake charmer and his cobra provide a good prop for photo ops.
More interactives, this time tracing the route of the legendary admiral and his ships.
Get your stamps at this station here – a favourite activity for kids.
Yes, Zheng He sailed all the way to the Middle East.
A view of the Typhoon Theatre, a 150-seat 360 degree multimedia theatre where visitors can “board” an Arabia bound sailing ship and go on a “perilous” and “stormy” voyage.
The Jewel of the Muscat, a replica which comes as a gift from the Sultanate of Oman to Singapore. Apparently the ship really sailed to Singapore all the way from the Middle East.
A little preview of our seafaring adventure awaited us before we…
…walked into the cool depths of the Typhoon Theatre. I must say that the 3D experience of howling winds, splashing waves and flashing lightnings were pretty real and immersive.
The next section in the museum showcased real artefacts hauled from the ocean bed. It began with a floor map showing the different spots where the Belitung sunken treasures were excavated.
Some of the sunken earthenware treasures brought to the surface for all to see. The research behind these were done by renowned archaeologist John Miksic from NUS.
Here’s how they looked like when they were first uncovered from the depths of the sea.
You can also try your hand at creating some virtual pottery on this interactive screen.
To fill the hungry tummies of land lubbers, a snack shop beckons.
I’m sure my 8 year old boy would love these soft toy animals!
For more information on the MEMA (including ticketing and openign hours), check out its website here. At only $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for kids, its really quite a steal for such a wonderfully immersive experience (pun unintended)!
Tags: art, culture, Heritage, history, Maritime Experiential Museum, museums, Resorts World Sentosa, tourist attraction