Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Audio Guide for the National Museum of Singapore

Apologies for the irregularity of posts over the last couple of days - I have just returned from Singapore, following the successful topping-off ceremony for the National Museum of Singapore (due to open December 2006). It was previously known as the Singapore History Museum (and originally as the Raffles Library and Museum), housed in a pretty colonial building with an attractive central dome built in 1884-5 off Orchard Road near the historic Fort Canning Hill. It has been expanded, with a 11-meter transparent self-supporting glass connector linking the dome of the old building with a multimedia glass drum that will project images of Singapore history and heritage onto its walls.

The National Museum, when open, will tell the story of Singapore in a very interesting new way - both from the perspective of its momentous events and distinct eras, but also through the voice of the people themselves. This story will be told both in the old building and in its new galleries. The state-of-the-art museum will also include several restaurants and cafes and a resource centre, which will make it a rather attractive venue for the re-telling of the Singapore story.

How are we involved? We have created for the National Museum of Singapore the first outdoor interactive audio guide on mobile phone in the world. We have been contracted by the Museum to create a Walk the Talk audio guide for its unpaid outdoor areas. The first phase, completed in time for the Monday ceremony, comprises the three salient architectural features of the Museum: 1) Its grand old colonial dome, replete with stained-glass windows, 2) the glass connector, believed to be the largest single outdoor glass structure with no frame in the world, and 3) the multimedia glass drum, a rather difficult feat of engineering that will entertain visitors with the moving image by day, and light up Fort Canning Park by night. The audio guide is free to use (except for your aeration), and if you'd like to try it out, the number is +65 6622-6226. It is only available for trial use until the 12th of December (after which it will be taken down for development of the next phase of audio content segments for Fort Canning Park), but do feel free to try it out!

What makes it different is that you are able to not only hear about the three architectural features of the Museum (via the pleasing voice of Programming Manager Katharyn Peh), but you are also invited to leave your feedback on the buildings, express your opinion on them, and what they mean to you or to Singapore's history. We've left these recording options open-ended so that our audio guide is not merely a conduit of information, but a dialogue between museum and community. We will save the best recordings and make them available to future visitors to the museum. But don't worry, we don't ask for your name, and you are given a chance to re-record until you are happy with your message.

If you're in Singapore, you may want to check out a story that will run about us in tomorrow 's edition (Thursday December 1st) of the Straits Times.

Stefan and I are have both enjoyed working with the NMS and the National Heritage Board team, not only because they are a very fun and talented group of people - it's also because both Stefan and I have roots to Singapore and it's nice feeling like we're giving something back. My father was Singaporean (I was not, being born in America and also inheriting German citizenship through my mother), and I spent 9 happy years of my childhood there (I first ran into Stefan in a biology class at the Singapore American School). As for Stefan, he spent less time there as a kid but also spent a few years there as a banker, and as his parents live there and his girlfriend is from there (sorry to disappoint any admirers!) he enjoys every opportunity to (as the Singaporeans say in their own unique way) "go Back".

Anyway, I will get back to my usual commentary and stories about heritage and the past of Hong Kong (and sometimes Macau and Singapore) tomorrow. But I thought I'd give you an update of what we're up to!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I used to work in NMS/NHB and from there I learnt to appreciate that a country, no matter how small, needs to preserve her heritage and culture.

Really happy you're involved in it SG's museum :) Great works!

Dave and Stefan said...

Thanks Martin! Would love to meet you next time we're in town...