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Event opening: Singapore National Museum’s revamped Glass Rotunda

The revamped Glass Rotunda featuring an interactive digital installation, a photographic exhibition and the Patek Philippe Dome Clock which played enabler.
by Peter Chong on December 6, 2016

Inspired by the Singapore National Museum’s William Farquhar Collection of National History Drawings, the revamped Glass Rotunda will house two special exhibits. The first is an interactive digital installation, and the other a photographic exhibition tracing the roots to iconic trees in the Singapore, Very Old Tree. The Glass Rotunda will open to the public on December 10. 

 

Why are we featuring this? Well, as part of the SG50 celebrations in 2015, Patek Philippe presented the nation with three clocks for auction to charitable causes. Full proceeds were donated to the charities. One of the three, the 1675M “Farquhar Collection” was purchased by The Hour Glass. Full proceeds were donated to the Singapore National Museum, and used to the revamp of the Glass Rotunda. In addition, the clock was donated by The Hour Glass, and will be on display at the Glass Rotunda.

 

Patek Philippe Ref. 1675M “Farquhar Collection”

Dome table clock in cloisonné enamel

 

1675M “Farquhar Collection” Dome table clock in cloisonné enamel. The clock was donated for auction by Patek Philippe. Full proceeds went to the revamping of the Glass Rotunda. The clock was purchased by The Hour Glass, who then donated the clock to the Museum. Exhibit can be viewed at the Glass Rotunda.

1675M “Farquhar Collection”
Dome table clock in cloisonné enamel. The clock was donated for auction by Patek Philippe. Full proceeds went to the revamping of the Glass Rotunda. The clock was purchased by The Hour Glass, who then donated the clock to the Museum. Exhibit can be viewed at the Glass Rotunda.

 

This unique piece was inspired by the celebrated “William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings”, a treasure-trove of 477 watercolours depicting plants and animals of Malacca and Singapore. The works were produced between 1819 and 1823 by Chinese artists at the request of William Farquhar, Singapore’s first Resident and Commandant at that time. A keen naturalist, Farquhar’s fascination with natural history resulted in important botanical and zoological discoveries in the Malay Peninsula and these drawings were important records in a period that pre-dated the invention of photography, and remain today valuable archives of a local biodiversity that is fast disappearing.

To convey all the beauty and wealth of detail of the drawings, which are equally prized for their scientific precision and their refined aesthetics, Patek Philippe’s enameller used transparent, opaque and opalescent enamels in 78 colours. Tracing the outlines required 32.55 meters (65.1 g) of gold wire measuring 0.2 mm wide. Each enameled element called for between 8 and 14 firings at temperatures of about 930°C.

The hour circle is adorned with black enameled Breguet numerals and frames a silver dial center guillochéd under sand-coloured enamel. Height: 213.5 mm.

Unique piece specially created to celebrate Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence. This clock sold for S$ 1,000,000 during the auction on 23 September 2015.

The other two clocks, were also sold during the same auction. The Ref. 1665M “Peranakan Culture” was sold for S$ 700,000 with full proceeds going to The Peranakan Museum, and 1677M “The Esplanade – Singapore” achieved a price of S$ 750,000, with full proceeds going to “Heritage Cares” program for beneficiaries of Singapore Comchest to enjoy programs offered at the museums.

 

The new exhibits at the Glass Rotunda

Story of the Forest

On entering the Glass Rotunda, visitors are greeted by Story of the Forest. The Story of the Forest is divided into three distinct segments. Beginning from the top, a constellation of flora cascading endlessly from the top of the dome structure.

 

The cascading constellation of flora from the top of the Glass Rotunda. The effect is quite mesmerising.

The cascading constellation of flora from the top of the Glass Rotunda. The effect is quite mesmerising.

 

Then the visitor passes onto a long curved ramp, some 170m in length with a larger than life interactive digital installation depicting the sights and sounds of the South East Asia dense tropical forests. The inspiration is taken from the Museum’s prized collection – The William Faquhar Collection of National History Drawings, utilising technology to transform 69 of the drawings into animated illustrations.

 

The interactive digital wall. The images are based on Faquhar's drawings, and as a result look like they moving on a giant cartoon landscape.

The interactive digital wall. The images are based on Faquhar’s drawings, and as a result look like they moving on a giant cartoon landscape.

 

Visitors can interact with the creatures on the huge screen, similar to Pokémon Go, they can download an app which will alert them of the animals passing by the screen near them. And they can interact with the animals by taking a photograph and ‘capturing’ the animal. The “captured” animal will reside in the phone app, and visitors can also see the additional information on the animal with the images from Faquhar’s illustrations and notes. The app is free to download on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

And at the bottom, the visitor enters an installation where visitors will encounter flora and fauna which will bloom before their eyes.

 

Flora and fauna installation with growing trees.

Flora and fauna installation with growing trees.

 

Sensors line the side of the walls, and as more people are detected in the room, the density of the trees increase. And as visitors move close to the sensors, new trees sprout.

The digital display is created by teamLab, a collective, interdisciplinary creative group.

 

Singapore, Very Old Tree

At the bottom of the Glass Rotunda, visitors will encounter this photographic exhibition by local photographer and artist, Robert Zhao. The collection of 30 images made by Robert for the project has been acquired by the National Museum, and the exhibition will showcase 17. Each highliting intimate stories and giving visitors a perspective of Singapore’s history and personal connections that Singaporeans have with our local trees.

 

Singapore, Very Old Tree Exhibit.

Singapore, Very Old Tree Exhibit.

 

Robert captures the images digitally as a single shot and had the images digitally manipulated to de-saturate the environment while keeping the tree and the person telling the story standing by it in full colour. This is to reflect on old photographs, which are typically black and white prints, but with the focal objects coloured in by hand.

 

The where and how?

 

The exhibition is located at the Glass Rotunda at the National Museum. The exhibits are on permanent exhibition beginning December 10, 2016. On the opening weekend on December 10 and 11, visitors will enjoy free admission to the Glass Rotunda and permanent galleries. There will also be a line-up of family friendly activities during that weekend.

The Glass Rotunda will be open from 10am to 7pm daily from December 10, 2016. Regular fees apply after the opening weekend. More information at the National Museum’s website.

 

 

 

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