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Collecting Contemporary Singapore

The collection of the National Museum of Singapore has its origins in the 19th century with the establishment of the Raffles Library and Museum. Today, we have continued to build upon this collection to encompass a broader social history of Singapore, and major moments in the nation’s recent history– including milestones and events that affect everyday life in Singapore.

The National Museum is expanding our public engagement efforts to crowd source objects and related stories/photos from residents in Singapore, to broaden our contemporary collection. We will be focusing on different themes in the coming years to encourage Singaporeans to contribute to this project and reflect upon life in Singapore in recent times.

These contributions may reveal different perspectives of contemporary Singapore that will shape and inform the curation of the museum’s future exhibitions. Selected objects may also be featured in relevant exhibitions presented by the National Museum.

Collecting Contemporary Singapore: Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore


The 2020 theme for Collecting Contemporary Singapore will focus on COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is certain to be a defining period in Singapore’s history, and we would like to collect your stories and experiences of living in Singapore during this period.

What does home (in a physical or symbolic sense) mean to you in a time of COVID-19, where the collective experience of such a crisis may bring new meaning and dimensions to home, and life in Singapore? For some, this might mean an extended period of staying at home; for others, it might mean the continued delivery of essential services. For others who have had an experience with the illness itself, either personally or occurring to a loved one, it might mean a changed outlook of life and re-ordering of priorities.

Sights and sounds in Singapore have also transformed – streets are quieter, people are masked, and social distancing tapes fill familiar spaces like void decks and playgrounds. It is a time that has brought out the best in Singaporeans, but has also meant real challenges for some. This, in turn, could result in different feelings and emotions – from anxieties to adjustments, isolation to intimacy, frustration or finding creative ways to deal with this new normal.

It is important for us at the National Museum to document this critical juncture in Singapore’s history through the stories of people’s lived experiences, photos and objects. In addition to archiving relevant contributions, there may also be future avenues to present or display these stories and objects.This includes an upcoming  exhibition – Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present − on the moments and experiences that express who we are as Singapore and Singaporeans.

Share your objects and related stories/photos with us!

If you could choose an object that represents the COVID-19 experience in Singapore or what home means to you during this time, what would this be and why? If you have such an object, we would love to hear about it and your story.
The following questions might guide members of the public in thinking about the objects and their story:

1. DAILY LIFE DURING COVID-19

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We hope to document what life during this pandemic and the circuit breaker period in Singapore has been like, and what home (in a physical or symbolic sense) means to you in a time of COVID-19:

 

• How has your routine changed? – from going to work or school, getting food and groceries, your exercise routine, pursuing your hobbies

• How did you spend time at home and stay connected with family and friends?

• What do celebrations and commemorations look like now – birthdays, anniversaries, school holidays, Ramadan?

• Looking around you, what changes have you observed in your neighbourhood, and for life in Singapore in general? How does this make you feel?

• What are some of the challenges that you have faced, or are facing? How have you overcome these challenges, or how are you currently dealing with them?

• What are the moments or stories that bring you happiness, hope and encouragement, even during this time of uncertainty?

• What will you miss, or not miss, when the circuit breaker measures are lifted?

2. EVERYDAY HEROES OF COVID-19

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We want to capture the stories and experiences of those at the frontlines of Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 and who are working to keep our essential services going. If your life has been touched by an everyday hero, or acts of kindness at this time, we would love to hear your stories as well. Everyday heroes include medical professionals, volunteers, social service professionals, essential service staff, as well as groups and individuals that have helped the community tide over this period.

• What does your life look like as a frontline or essential worker during this time, and how have you adapted to the changes?

• What have been some of the most difficult or memorable moments? How does this make you feel?

• What are the acts of kindness you have experienced, or shown during this time?

Submission details

NMS welcomes the public to send in images of objects and accompanying stories that tell key stories of daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, or of everyday heroes of COVID-19. These may include household items or gadgets, personal belongings, hand-made posters or signages, hand-sewn masks, artwork or objects adapted for COVID-19, clothes and accessories, or any other object that best represents one’s experience and memory of living through COVID-19 in Singapore.  

Click here to submit your entry!

Relevant contributions may be featured in future exhibitions presented by the museum, including an upcoming exhibition – “Home, Truly: Growing up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present”. As the museum is currently closed in adherence to the circuit breaker measures, the curatorial team will get in touch at an appropriate time to follow up on suitable submissions.


For further queries, please contact the museum’s Curatorial team at NHB_NMS_Curatorial@nhb.gov.sg.
Please note that unsolicited donations sent through the mail or otherwise without prior correspondence with our curators will not be accepted.

Click here for FAQs and Terms & Conditions on Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore