Oct 19 2011
Every year new attractions open on Sentosa and every time they seem to be more and more random. The most recent additions have been a cable car museum, sky-diving simulator, and the world’s largest dancing animatronics show. Seriously, who comes up with these things?
But the new Maritime Experiential Museum is a perfect fit. It’s impossible to get to Sentosa Island without noticing the massive cargo ships in the Port of Singapore, and this interactive museum immerses you in the history of sea exploration and trade in Asia.
The museum’s inspiration is Admiral Zheng He — Asia’s greatest explorer — who commanded a fleet of 300 ships as he explored the seas on behalf of China’s Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. The museum’s showpiece is a full-sized replica of his treasure ship and an introductory video that looks more like a video game than a history lesson is projected the front of the massive boat every 20 minutes (in Mandarin with English subtitles).
In following Admiral Zheng He’s ancient maritime trading route, the museum has a “souk” (market) for each of his major ports of call: Quanzhou, China; Qui Nhon, Vietnam; Palembang, Indonesia; Melaka, Malaysia; Galle, Sri Lanka; Calicut, India; Muscat, Oman; and Malindi, Kenya. Each display has examples of what would have been traded in that city — spices, porcelain, silk, giraffes! — and displays about the unique culture, such as Vietnamese water puppets and traditional Indonesian dance. This part of the museum is extremely kid-friendly with lots of things to touch, arts and craft stations, and computer games.
Nearly as big as Admiral Zheng’s ship, the museum has a recreation of 9th century Arab dhow. “The Jewel of Muscat” is a gift from Oman to Singapore and it spent five months at sea sailing from Muscat to Singapore without the aid of GPS. Don’t miss the video at the museum showing the boat’s construction from traditional methods and materials; the ropes are made from coconut husks and there is not a single nail holding it together.
One final rave about this new museum: admission is S$5 for adults and S$3 for children. Considering that admission to the also newish ArtScience Museum is nearly S$30, this is a rare Singapore bargain.
While the giant ships and souks were the highlight of the Maritime Experiential Museum for me, there are some traditional museum displays with 15th century artefacts like pottery and coins behind glass. The museum also houses the Typhoon Theatre — a multisensory show that recreates the stormy seas with blowing air and moving seats — which costs an additional S$6 for adults and S$4 for children. There are also plans to add an aquarium in the future.
Maritime Experiential Museum
Resorts World Sentosa Waterfront
Open 10:00 – 19:00 Monday to Thursday, 10:00 – 21:00 Friday to Sunday
Admission S$5 adults, S$2 children (ages 4-12)
T: 6577 8888
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