Museums, Exhibitions & GalleriesHistory, trade, explorers

An Old New World

National Heritage Board / National Museum of Singapore
Surface area
12,917 sq ft / 1,200 m²
Completion date
An Old New World Exhibition at National Museum of Singapore by GSM Project
GSM Project
From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600s–1819

As Singapore marks its bicentennial, An Old New World: the exhibition, celebrates by going far back in history to shed light on the two centuries leading up to the founding.

What was going on in the East Indies from 200 to 400 years ago? GSM’s teams from around the world collaborated and worked in partnership with our clients at the National Museum of Singapore to tell this story.


Lighting Design [] Introduction media show []

GSM Project
Creating curiosity - All aboard!

Visitors are enticed to explore from the moment they set foot in the museum. The design details peak curiosity while guiding visitors down into the gallery to discover Singpore's early history.

Bringing history to life

An immersive multimedia show, compelling games, a giant model ship and over 200 artefacts – including precious maps and rare specimens – come together to bring history to life from multiple perspectives. These different points of view range from those of locals (old world) to explorers (new world) as they discovered rich natural history, sailed the high seas and traded valuable goods.

GSM Project
GSM Project

Including 75 loans from institutional and private collections

From sea to land and back again

This exhibition takes visitors on a journey through vastly different and fascinating settings in the East Indies. Rather than follow a typical chronological progression, the visitor is plunged into environments like the high seas, the market and the rainforest to truly immerse themselves in this 200-year time period.

To set the tone, an immersive multimedia show invites museum visitors to experience the English explorers arrival in Singapore, already a thriving international port at the time at which they were greeted by the locals. As they emerge into the exhibition, an array of precious historical maps, indigenous artefacts and interactive globes greets them as they understand how both explorers and locals navigated the seas. As they progress, they climb aboard and explore a large replica of a ship, learning about the hardships and highlights of life at sea.

GSM Project

In the gallery a gigantic ship becomes an interactive space to explore a sailor's life and the tools they used and the skills they had to learn to survive!

GSM Project
The visitor journey

Zones take people through trading at the marketplace, discovering plants and animals in the rainforest, admiring and questioning depictions of locals and landscapes, and finally back out to the sea once more to discover the factors that led up to the founding of Singapore by Raffles in 1819. Portraits, specimens, interactive games, furniture, maps and even cannons illustrate each setting. Together with the unique design of each zone, the objects and texts enrich the visitor’s understanding of every facet of this time and place, as if they had actually been there!

GSM Project
Najeer Yusof
GSM Project

"A truly immersive multimedia show that transports visitors back in time."

Fiona Ng Suneson

Managing Director, GSM Singapore

GSM Project


GSM’s Singapore, Montréal and Dubai teams came together to plan, design and install this exhibition commemorating Singapore’s momentous anniversary. Creating a compelling, non-chronological storyline to tell the story of Singapore and the East Indies using a mix of multimedia, large scale installations and historical artefacts in a short time frame was a tall order, and our teams proved up to the challenge.