WORLD’S FIRST ARTSCIENCE MUSEUM AT MARINA BAY SANDS SINGAPORE

On 17 February 2011, a ceremony to mark the Grand Opening of Marina Bay Sands, at the auspicious hour of 3.18pm, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was presented the golden key to “unlock” Singapore’s newer cultural landmark — the world’s first ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. The Museum was officially unveiled by Mr Sheldon Adelson, visionary Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp who called the lotus flowers “The Welcoming Hand of Singapore.” As the world’s first ArtScience Museum, Singapore has the unique position of becoming the epicenter for the growing ArtScience knowledge base and the test bed for new and innovative ideas. According to Morshe Safdie, Marina Bay Sands’ design architect, every element in the design of the ArtScience Museum reinforces the institution’s philosophy of creating a bridge between the arts and sciences. The building combines the aesthetic and functional, the visual and the technological, and the forward looking spirit of Singapore.

MORE IMAGES FROM MY ARTSCIENCE MUSEUM TOUR

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With its unique lotus-inspired design, the museum showcases impressive blockbuster exhibitions from around the world. Photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands.

The Museum’s design features both breathtaking form and environmentally-friendly function. Its dish-like roof channels rainwater through the central atrium of the building (see photo below), creating a 35-meter water drop into a small, reflecting pool. The rainwater is then recycled for use in the building’s restrooms. Materials such as Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP), typically used in high-performance  racing yachts, which has never been used in a project in Singapore, was used for the construction of this architectural wonder.

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A view of the ArtScience Museum from the Sands SkyPark at sunset. Note the dish-like roof that channels rainwater through the central atrium of the building, creating a 35-meter water drop into small pool.

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The iconic ArtScience Museum will host blockbuster international exhibits as well as permanent exhibits on three floors of gallery space across 6,000 square meters.

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The ArtScience Museum not only creates a bridge between the arts and sciences but 'The Welcoming Hand of Singapore' also provides shade where visitors young and old love to hang out.

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Traveling The Silk Road Exhibition Guide and my complimentary ticket to the Museum, a nice addition to my growing collection of travel memorabilia.

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The Gallery — photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

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The Main Gallery Lobby — photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

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Camel caravan. Come face-to-face with three life-size camel models decked out in full caravan regalia and loaded with trade goods at the entrance to the exhibition. The camels and visitors are surrounded by a 120-foot-long mural depicting a landscape of sand dunes.

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The Interactive "Silk Road" map to discover the links among cultures, technology, and geography along the Silk Road with an interactive electronic tabletop map in the Samarkand section of the exhibition.

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Step 1,000 years back in time to experience the sights, sounds and stories of the greatest trading route in history. The interfactive Silk Road map is a popular stopover for curious visitors. By pressing different buttons new information is projected across the map, revealing surprising connections.

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Our guide, Toon Hee, stands next to a 41-foot long portion of a full-sized model of a 71-foot long Arab sailing ship, called a dhow, split in half to reveal a cargo of ceramics and elaborate metalwork.

A dhow (Arabic,داو) is a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or more lateen sails. It is primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, India and East Africa. Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty people, while smaller dhows typically have crews of around twelve. Dhows are much larger than feluccas, another type of Arab boat usually used in fresh water in Egypt, Sudan and Iraq. — Wikipedia

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A closeup shot of the ceramic cargo

The Genghis Khan exhibition takes visitors on a journey back to the 13th century Mongolia. Experience stunning re-creations of Mongolia’s grasslands and battlegrounds, and walk among the archaeological artifacts and weaponry of the Mongol Empire. The 1,500-square meter exhibition tells the story of the legendary conqueror whose innovation, technological mastery and cultural creativity gave him the reputation of one of the world’s greatest yet most misunderstood leaders.

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Visitors to ArtScience Museum enjoy the largest collection of Genghis Khan artifacts ever assembled with over 200 rare authentic treasures from the conqueror's reign. This is the first time this extensive exhibition is shown in Asia and currently the ArtScience museum is its only Asia venue planned.

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Visitors listen to a various instruments, including the morin khuur, or horse-head fiddle being played as part of the live, traditional Mongolian performance art featured in the exhibition.

Diplomatic Passport of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan's government issues passports, called paizi, as portable symbols of authority over his vast empire. These medallion guaranteed safe passage for diplomats and state messengers throughout the empire and signified official status.

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View a royal mummy of an unusually tall female who died in the 11th or 12th century and her coffin. Unlike the embalmed mummies in ancient Egypt, this body was preserved naturally. Two silk and one leather robe were found with the body. In the mummy's case are a variety of materials found in her tomb, including a hat and jewelry.

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Young visitors look at painted Changsha bowls from the ship. These bowls feature the head of Central or West Asian man while the brown patches were applied by dipping in the glaze.

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The Museum's education team is also actively reaching out to schools in Singapore to develop tailored educational programs for youth.

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This Gold Cup is the most important Tang gold object ever found outside China. It is unusually large (and heavy) and the cost of its material alone would have equaled ten year's salary for a low-ranking Chinese official. The musicians and dancer on the cup are identifiable as foreigners by their long hair and billowing clothes, and the ring handle with its bearded faces also suggests the influence of Central Asian metalware.

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A total of 10 "fingers" that make up the building form plus two bay windows with special views of Singapore and Marina Bay Sands. The interiors of the "fingers" are unique gallery spaces with natural lighting from the fingertips illuminating the sculptural interior wall forms.

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After-hours view of the illuminated Lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum.

THE SINGAPORE NIGHTLIFE NOCTURNALLY SPEAKING

From festive lights-up and shopping in Orchard Road to culinary indulgence to 12-hour partying at ZoukOut, Singapore is better known for its nightlife. After hours, Singapore practically transforms itself from a super-efficient business hub to a buzzing network of pubs and nightclubs. People indulge freely in late night bar-hopping, leaving behind the burden of the day’s stress. Pubbing and clubbing at Singapore is a must if you want to feel the night-pulse of the city—experience the city only by day and you get just half of the picture.

One such nightspot with breathtaking views of Singapore’s night lights is the New Asia Bar, located on the 71st and 72nd floor of Singapore’s tallest building – the Swissôtel Stamford. New Asia Bar offers guests a spectacular 360° view of Singapore. The lift takes you up to public access Level 71st while access to 72nd is by invitation-only. Check out also  the brilliant city lights as seen from the Singapore Flyer.

Other night spots I visited include the glittering lights, beautiful people and buzzing bars of Clarke Quay. A lot of its facade seems to have changed since my last visit years ago and with its kaleidoscope of hip bars and nightspots along the Singapore River, Clarke Quay is certainly a great nightlife location. Originally a centre of commerce along the Singapore River, Clarke Quay is nowadays a labyrinth of restaurants, concept bars, retail stores and recreation outlets. Clubs like Zirca Mega Club and Attica are famous names on the local night circuit, while restaurants and bars with a mind-boggling selection of themes and attractions round out your choice of after-sunset indulgence.

Located right in the heart of Clarke Quay, Clinic’s unique alfresco is easily identified by its hospital whites, colourful pills, syringes, drips, test-tubes and paraphernalia in all manner of the clinical. Stressed out folks can check in at The Clinic for a much needed shot.

Cool looking membrane roof structures, these permament transparent (ethylenetetrafluoroethylene) ETFE cushion street roofs, provide shading and cooling between shops and houses, are patterned with custom decorative fritting and emphasised with colour lighting.

“The Cannery unveils Mulligan’s, a classical, traditional Irish bar that provides a meeting point for like-minded individuals and sports enthusiasts who appreciate great value Irish food and beverage culture, and authentic Irish live music, a first in Clarke Quay.” source: e-clubbing.com

One of Clarke Quay’s so called “little entertainment attraction” is the Turkish Ice Cream man who constantly fiddles with his ice cream and if you’re one of the fortunate ones on the receiving end of his acrobatic acts, everyone has a laugh at your expense. That’s quite a good deal :)

If you need an adrenaline boost, try the hair-raising GMAX Reverse Bungy which reaches 60 metres in the air at speeds of up to 200 kph and hits G Force 5 — your hair might never look the same again.

Being hosted @ Clarke Quay meant I was able to take pictures where normally frown upon or prohibited inside. It’s Friday night and the energy was simply electric everywhere. Here, folks danced to a live performance of Sean Kingston’s Fire Burnin’ On The Dancefloor! Other clubs we visited included Lunar Asia Fusion Bar, YelloJello, Rebel Boutique Club and we ended the night at Zirca where we were treated to an audio visual spectacle with interactive and engaging live performances.

Rebel is a cool urban boutique club which features customised street art pieces by renowned Melbourne artist, Meggs.

As we left for the evening, more people had just arrived to start their evening …

A MARATHON WEEKEND IN SINGAPORE

Tip for Bruneians traveling to Singapore: Accessing DSTinternet abroad.
As you may know, the Nokia E71 has essentially replaced my laptop for e-mails and instant messaging when I am on the road. As a DST 3G Prima subscriber, I discovered that DSTinternet access point worked when roamed to SingTel network (Starhub and M1 failed). I also happily discovered that establishing a 3G data connection in Singapore had been consistently quicker and more reliable than doing the same at home. The only thing I have yet to discover and something I don’t look forward to are the killer roaming charges!

In spite of the economic downturn, I made an effort to visit Singapore  to have coffee with friends and colleagues  who are  in the photography profession. ‘Bad times’ is no reason to network any less. If anything, this is the time to establish more networks. It’s become somewhat of a year end tradition for me since Starbucks Rendezvous two Decembers ago followed by a solo parenting experience in A Day At Sentosa last year where Jamie and Jewel had a blast—wanted to bring them along on this recent trip but we had a different mission—much needed Retail Therapy!

This trip, a short and terribly exhausting one I should add, we stayed at one of my late father-in-law’s relative’s HDB flat and the view from their living room is simply beautiful every night. On our way there from the airport, we experienced a stormy night with loud thunders and streaks of lightning bolts accenting the illuminated skies. These were photographed from the 16th floor in Kallang and the only photographic documentary equipment that I brought along was my EOS 20D, a 50mm f/1.8 lens and 4GB CF card on a single battery.

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The lightning effects are simulated. By the time we settled in the flat, the storm had somewhat disappointly cleared up. I get beautiful sunrises from my Seria house but a Singapore nightscape on a stormy night would be quite something to capture.

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↓ Dotted lift buttons designed for the convenience of the blind. As a kid holidaying in Singapore, I would occasionally stay at an aunt’s place when she used to live there with her husband. For as long as I can remember now, our more recent trips had seen our share of stay along Orchard for a different sort of convenience—shopping.

RETAIL THERAPY BEGINS HERE …

→  RETAIL THERAPY TIME OUT  ←

Because we stayed away from the Central Business Districts, our morning routine is closer to home—fresh market, buzzling coffee houses, noodles, etc instead of Starbucks, McDonalds, Subway and the likes along Orchard Road.

This owner was kind enough to cut open a fresh jackfruit for this photo op. I know for a fact that pictures like this would get jackfruit lovers salivating in a sec. So ladies and gents, this one is dedicated to your craving taste bud :)

↓ Coffee Museum @ Tiong Bahru.
Right place, right time for coffee lovers like me. The yellow slimy fruit just doesn’t do it for me.

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RETAIL THERAPY continues …

I visited Orient Photo at Sim Lim Square to pick up some stuff and ended up walking away with more than I planned. Women always say they cannot have enough shoes or bags, this store has enough camera inventory to make your head spin. I walked away with some Pocket Wizards, a long overdue ND8 filter and a Crumpler-made CANON EOS neckstrap from Canon @ Vivocity.

↑ While at Orient Photo, I tested a 50mm f/1.4 with the photo above when I really should have tested the 50mm f/1.2 instead. What was I thinking?

↓ I was being a busy body and couldn’t help eavesdropping a conversation between the store owner and a Caucasian photographer who was testing a Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 on his Nikon D700. It didn’t take him long to confirm it and I ended up keeping the box: Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/85mm ZF—I won’t disclose the price he paid for the piece but suffice to say, it’s still a lot cheaper than a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 II.

↓ My EOS 5D with 70-200 f/2.8 fitted with Pocket Wizard Plus II and Crumpler Canon EOS neckstrap. More Canon poison? Need directions, Glenn? :)

↓ On the morning of the Singapore Marathon 2008, a peek out of the window at 6.50 AM overlooking an early Tai Chi session in progress.

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I took a walk from the Kallang HDB flat, and a rather long walk I should add, to reach the cordoned off intersection of Kg Bugis where I was early enough to have seen the  first runner run past. I think I stayed long enough to see about 50 runners before I decided to walk back to join my family for breakfast. Getting lost on my way back was a lonely experience but an experience no less. Being a Sunday, the roads were pretty much deserted with the occasional bus or taxi passing by. Instead of back tracking where I came from (which was very easy) I chose a direction that I thought was shorter forgetting that I was born without the benefit of a GPS DNA (men and directions!).

Quite literally a truck load of spectators!

↓ The title of this post “marathon” refers not only to the Singapore Marathon event but also the every day marathon rushing from one venue to another. Chaotic madness above ground, equally nuts below the tarmac. What interests me about Singapore and about the one thing that has kept me sane is the variety of people and their lifestyle that I find interesting and cannot get enough of. Someday I might even be crazy enough to walk around Singapore with my 5DII and 70-200mm … endless supply of people photos! (Did I just drop a hint there?)

↓ OK this one is a weird one but I can explain. I had lunch with two photographers who happened to drive Honda Stream only one of the two is a newly launched RSZ model. “CC” is a proud owner of the RSZ and I got to ride in one to some hilly part of Sg for a casual “twin Stream” shoot and fortunately, mosquito bites were by far the more unpleasant experience.

↓ This was shot on the last night of our stay—exhausted, worse off credit ratings, homesick … er .. umm .. maybe not homesick but were definitely exhausted. Our host had been very generous and the location was great with accessibility to food and transport just a stone’s throw away. I have to get some work in Singapore to visit it more often.

↓ Go ahead Starbucks. Surprise me with free coffee delivered to …. BRUNEI!
This was the only Starbucks joint I managed to drop in for a quick shot of Cappuccino.

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RELATED SINGAPORE LINKS (in case you haven’t had a chance to click on the links above)