“Museum needs more space, better access,” by Jaya Kumar Narayanan. The Straits Times (Forum page), 02 Jun 2009

“On May 24, a Sunday, my family and I were at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was fascinating to discover that Singapore has such a wide diversity of flora and fauna.

Due to extensive media coverage, many people were there, including old folk in wheelchairs and babies in strollers. Some of the older generation were excited to share kampung stories and their encounters with animals such as flying foxes and monitor lizards.

However, the museum is too small for public viewing. Also, the location is also out of the way for most people and inaccessible to the public – especially for those without their own transport – as it is within NUS grounds. Added to that, some people had difficulty reaching the museum due to lack of directional signs.

Guides mentioned that less than 1 per cent of the collection, which is mostly used for research purposes, was on display. I believe more could be displayed if not for space constraints.

Although there were activities for children, the museum lacks the sort of interactivity that most museums have – for example, an electronic touch panel or even a video wall. There should be large and simple signs for children to read.

The guides were wonderful in introducing us to the museum in terms of flora and fauna classification and diversity, as well as places to visit in Singapore to explore nature. However, they were pretty short-handed in managing guiding sessions, patrolling the specimens and helping out with Q&A.

Singapore may have no dinosaur bones, but we have the resources to showcase the rich and diverse natural history of Singapore and South-east Asia.”

Jaya Kumar Narayanan

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2 Responses to “Museum needs more space, better access,” by Jaya Kumar Narayanan. The Straits Times (Forum page), 02 Jun 2009

  1. Pingback: Raffles the Biodiversity Geek at Deadpoet’s Cave

  2. Chen says:

    I’ve visited the museum recently, and I appreciate that it wouldn’t have been easy at all for the staff and volunteers to manage a sudden deluge of visitors that they’ve faced given their space and resource constraints. It is understandable that the public may ask for interactive, high tech gadgets to facilitate their learning, but for a facility that is dependent upon public/ government funding, I would say that RMBR has been managed very well (after all they are primarily a research museum). Interactive gadgets aside, perhaps what can help to make the exhibits more attractive would be to use some colorful photos to show what the animals actually look like in real life.

    With the global emphasis on preservation of biodiversity, perhaps it is now time for our government to rise to the occasion and throw their full weight behind biodiversity research in Singapore. RMBR has great potential, and if given the funding and support it deserves, there is without a doubt that we will be looking at a world class natural history museum that all Singaporeans can be proud of.

    PS:
    Just a suggestion, how about putting RMBR on facebook as part of your outreach to generate more interest and support ?

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