Museums, Exhibitions & GalleriesIdentity, people and community
National Museum of Singapore (NMS)
5920 sq ft // 550m2
For most of us home is a source of pride and our homes are sacred sanctuaries and safe places full of memories. Home, Truly explores the moments and experiences in Singapore’s past and present and expresses Singapore’s identity and collective memory as a people. The exhibition experience is designed to encourage visitors to explore and reflect on what makes Singapore home to them.
We were delighted to design the National Museum of Singapore’s newest temporary exhibition Home, Truly, Growing Up with Singapore, 1950’s to the Present, presented in collaboration with The Straits Times, in conjunction with the newspaper’s 175th anniversary.
Using the home as a metaphor and through five key themes, Home, Truly is presented in intimate, familiar settings that invites visitors to see themselves in the stories presented, with different moments in the journey that encourage visitors to reflect on what Singapore means to them as their home, and their hopes for the home they aspire it to be. People’s stories are at the center of Home, Truly, spanning both personal and national moments, through photographs, artefacts and oral histories, including those contributed by members of the public, as well as audio-visual footage, sounds, scents and special digital interactive features.
While photos are the primary medium for Home, Truly, they do not just depict a state of affairs, but tell stories of Singapore’s past and present, evoke emotion and serve as a bridge for collective experiences and memories across generations.
Reflecting on home
The exhibition’s five sections – Laying the Foundations, Moving In, Living Together, Open Doors and Sturdy Through Storms – features foundational nation-building policies such as housing, economy and defence, invites visitors into common experiences that breathe life into a nation such as going to school or enjoying hawker food, and explores themes like Singapore’s transformation, its immigrant and multicultural past and overcoming crises and challenges.
The use of evocative photographs, oral histories, and artefacts that speak to lived experiences in immersive and reflective settings help to emphasise the central theme of the exhibition as one with people’s voices and personal stories at the forefront. On several occasions within the exhibition, visitors are invited to pause to listen to an oral history interviews being shared, or sit and have a conversation with someone about the exhibition’s themes or share their memories based on what they have encountered in the exhibition.
The meaning of home
Is home to you about people, places or experiences? At the beginning of the exhibition, visitors can register RFID tags that are issued to them via an interactive station. Through their responses to prompts within the exhibition, visitors can find out more about what home means to them based on their responses. They will also receive a specially curated list of digital content based on their personal journey throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition’s conclusion invites visitors to contribute to a live collective response on what “home” means to them by writing or drawing on a response card, scanning it in and seeing their responses projected on a screen and as part of a collective word cloud.
Accessibility initiatives for visually impaired visitors
GSM applies accessibility standards in its space and content design for wheelchair users, and for families with children. This time, in exploring how the visually impaired community may experience a primarily visual exhibition on home meaningfully, GSM responded to the National Museum’s brief to include exhibition features that would be friendly to the visually impaired community. These include an ambient soundscape of familiar sounds, diffused scents, and a special recording device that allows the visually impaired to record their responses to the exhibition’s final interactive, instead of writing down their responses.
Tactile floor strips were also included within the exhibition to support a pilot experience for visually impaired visitors which includes a smart cane prototype. The pilot smart cane experience was developed by the National Museum of Singapore with Nanyang Polytechnic and Guide Dogs Singapore, and supported by Temasek Foundation.
Engaging visitors safely in the new normal
One significant effect of COVID-19 that we are all very familiar with has been the fear of close contact and touch. Mindful of opening an exhibition during pandemic times, we paid particular attention to help visitors engage safely and enjoyably with the exhibition through adapting technology for contactless experiences.
Each visitor to Home, Truly is given a stylus pen with a Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) tag, enabling them to interact with multimedia stations without having to touch the screens. The RFID tag allows visitors to participate and engage with the exhibition content by responding to prompts within the exhibition. Motion and voice activated devices to trigger video and audio experiences have also been incorporated throughout the exhibition
GSM Project is honored to have collaborated with the National Museum of Singapore to design the temporary exhibition Home, Truly: Growing up with Singapore 1950’s to the Present, that opened in December 2020 and contributes towards building a sense of belonging to Singapore as home and conversations on what it means to call this place home.