First natural history museum in Singapore unveiled
06 June 2012
An artist’s impressions of the purpose-built Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS which will open its doors in 2014
Images: W Architects
In two years’ time, Singapore will see its first natural history museum showing off centuries-old exhibits and three dinosaurs from the Jurassic period.
When ready, the new S$46 million Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum will be home to some 800,000 Southeast Asian specimens and complete fossils of three giant dinosaurs. The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) at NUS will be shifting its valuable collection of flora and fauna to the new building which will be linked to the adjacent University Cultural Centre and NUS Museum.
Fittingly, the architecture of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum will sport a “prehistoric” boulder-like façade with tiered tropical vegetation. Surrounding the site will be lush indigenous plants and trees, as well as landscaped forests for educational purposes.
Director of RMBR Prof Peter Ng, who also oversees NUS’ Tropical Marine Science Institute, revealed that the new seven-storey building has about 7,500 sq m of space, of which more than 2,000 sq m will be used for exhibition. The spacious gallery will be able to display up to 10 times more exhibits than the old museum.
He said the internal temperature will be maintained in the low 20°C with humidity of about 60 per cent to keep the specimens in optimum condition. Research specimens and offices will be housed together, presenting unique challenges for safety issues. To comply with the strict fire regulations, the sprinklers are specially engineered while the dry collection area is equipped with a gas extinguishing system.
Prof Ng is happy that W Architects brings together the best team of architects, designers and museum consultants for the project. The firm was involved in the development of the National Museum of Singapore and the Peranakan Museum.
The architects put in a two-storey central space in the plan to cater for iconic exhibits such as dinosaurs. This prescient design came in handy when the opportunity to buy three fossils became available. The first long-neck baby dinosaur has arrived and its parents will be shipped in by end of next year.
Prof Ng stressed that while the dinosaurs will be a key attraction, the focus will still be the region. “Our strength is Southeast Asian biodiversity research; the dinosaurs are icing on the cake.”
He added: “The museum will be a research hub for work on biodiversity, while the gallery will be educational and different programmes will be designed around it.”
After Raffles Museum’s last open house in May which saw a record turnout of more than 700 visitors, the historic contents are now being carefully packed for the big move which is expected to commence in 2014.
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