Our SG Heritage Plan is a comprehensive national masterplan co-created with the community, for the future of Singapore’s heritage and museum sector. The plan was launched in April 2018, and over the course of the year, NHB has embarked on various key initiatives across the plan’s four pillars of Our Places, Our Cultures, Our Treasures, and Our Communities. They are:

1.     NHB to submit UNESCO Nomination for Hawker Culture in Singapore

Singapore is ready to nominate Hawker Culture for the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nomination dossier will be submitted to UNESCO by end-March 2019, and the outcome is likely to be announced end-2020.

Community support has been strong for the nomination. As of 5 March, more than 700,000 pledges have been received online, through the travelling exhibitions, and mobile pledging stations. We have also facilitated and supported various ground-up efforts by the community to promote and document Hawker Culture, in support of our nomination. This includes hawker associations, schools, civic groups and corporations. In the media and social media, the hawkers and the nomination have also been in the spotlight through initiatives such as the Support Our Hawker social movement (@SGHawkerCulture) and a #OurHawkerCulture Photo Contest, organised in partnership with National Geographic.

2.     NHB to ensure greater accessibility and inclusivity to our heritage offerings

We will continue to make our cultural offerings and spaces more accessible and inclusive, particularly for underserved groups like the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

·       An accessibility audit will be rolled out across our museums and heritage institutions this year, with the first phase of the audit relating to infrastructure. The ongoing/upcoming revamps at CCM, RBC, TPM and SPM will also enhance accessibility of these spaces, for instance featuring wider passageways, lifts and ramps for wheelchair users, etc.

·       Building on our efforts to develop the Silver Hubs programme at the three Heritage Institutions, NHB and its institutions will continue to offer enriching, senior-friendly programmes and to serve as community spaces for our elderly to come together. One such initiative is Reminiscence Walks – the first official run took place in December last year, and it will soon be introduced to the Kampong Gelam and Little India precincts.

·       In the pipeline is also the new House of Memories initiative, an app-based programme which aims to improve the care experience for persons with dementia, and their caregivers, through online access to our National Collection.  NHB will partner Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, the Agency for Integrated Care, and the Geriatric Education and Research Institute to roll out the programme, and it will be piloted with healthcare professionals and patients at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital later this year. 

·       Our museums and institutions will continue to leverage new tools and tailor new programmes for more inclusive visitor experiences. For example, ACM and TPM are developing travelling trunks which allow visually-impaired visitors to handle objects from the museums’ handling collections and other replicas. The National Museum of Singapore will be launching the Quiet Room in 2019, which will provide a calm and relaxing environment for visitors especially children with special needs.

·       Complementing all of this is HeritageCares, which since its start in 2016, has engaged and recruited over 3,200 volunteers as befrienders or guides for NHB programmes. Developing and growing the capabilities of our volunteers is key to the HeritageCares initiative. To equip volunteers and docents with greater knowledge of special needs visitors,HeritageCares partnered organisations, such as Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore (MINDS) and Cerebral Palsy Alliance School, to organise training sessions.

3.     NHB to Unroll New Digitalisation Initiatives for Singaporeans

In line with the Public Service Transformation, NHB, together with the rest of the cultural sector, will further enhance access to our cultural offerings through digital technology, and transform the way in which audiences engage and interact with the arts and culture. Plans to be rolled out include:

·       Cultural Resource Ontology: a back-end system that aims to improve on the structure of cultural resource data. What this means for end users is an enhanced search capability powered by Artificial Intelligence. Users will be able to discover and research Singapore’s rich cultural and heritage content through a more intuitive, efficient, and meaningful categorisation of recommended resources from our National Collection, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and performing arts.  They will also be able to experience the visualisation of these resources in the form of timelines, themes and relationships.  This will be made available progressively from 2020, starting with NHB’s

·       Digital showcases and experiences at our museums and galleries: these will include innovative projects and solutions through the DigiMuse platform, where we tap on the expertise of technology partners to enhance the experience of audiences at our cultural institutions.

More information on other COS announcements from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth can be found here.