Raffles Museum Open House 2011 (24th & 25th June 2011)

In conjunction with Children’s Season 2011 , RMBR organized a two day open house on the 24th and 25th June. Supported by the National Heritage Board, we wanted to increase public awareness of the rich biodiversity heritage that Singapore possesses by reaching out to the little ones. Although Singapore is a small island and we have lost more than 95% of our original habitats, what remains is still mind bogglingly rich in species diversity, and it is something all Singaporeans can be proud of. We hope to inculcate the knowledge of our biodiversity in children and hopefully, instill in them the message of conservation.

The museum was packed with over 900 visitors (!!) for two full days of fun and activities. The Raffles Museum staff, with the help of 51 volunteers, cheerfully worked hard to ensure that our visitors not only enjoyed themselves to the fullest, but also had an enriching learning experience.

Scientists at Work

One of the first few activities to be snapped up by online registrants was a peek into the World of Spiders. Conducted by our resident spider expert, Mr. David Court, the workshop allowed participants to see spiders like they’ve never seen before! Following an introductory slide presentation, there were plenty of hands on experiences for our young participants, from working with microscopes and high definition cameras, as well as getting up close and personal with live spider specimens. It is no wonder why participants have nothing but praise after attending this workshop!

We introduced a new Scientists at Work segment for this open house. “Animal Teeth Forensics” was conducted by Mr. Marcus Chua, a postgraduate researcher specialising in mammals. Through this workshop, participants were shown different animal skulls ranging from the really big to small, and taught how to analyse the animal’s diet through examining their teeth. It was an eye-opening experience to see the well kept skull specimens and observe how a small part of an animal’s body affects its lifestyle. Response to this workshop was enthusiastic and we were really happy to see our participants engrossed in untangling the mysteries of teeth forensics. It was also the first time that they had seen animal skulls up close in real life!

Life of a Curator

Besides experiencing scientists at work, we also wanted visitors to experience the life of a museum curator. There were three workshops where our visitors were taught to preserve eggs, snails, and plant specimens, just like what the curators in RMBR do!  For the Egg Preservation workshop. Participants were given quail eggs to preserve, and for an additional measure of fun, if they brought chicken eggs from home, they could have a crafty time, decorating the egg shell after preserving it!

The Shell Preservation workshop allowed participants to experience the tedious work our mollusc curator has to do before a specimen is ready to be catalogued and shelved. The participants had to clean and scrub their shells thoroughly before they could bring home their very own preserved snail shell.

Participants of the Plant Preservation workshop had an enlightening time of learning how to preserve plant specimens and turning them into bookmarks to bring home as a souvenir . Participants of this workshop rediscovered the beauty of plants in a different way.

Gallery Activities

The many gallery activities included “Make Your Own Museum Button” where visitors could colour and make their very own museum button.

“Masquerade” featured delightful animal masks and the children had a great time colouring and making them.

For “Colour Me Beautiful”, trained volunteers turned our little guests into cheetahs, tigers, birds and a whole menagerie of animals by painting their faces or body. It was great fun and certainly added to the carnival atmosphere of our open house seeing butterflies and other wild animals in all corners of RMBR.

“Animal Potter” was a clay modeling workshop that taught participants how to use jumping clay to create a knobbly sea star or a clown fish, animals that are commonly seen in our waters. Everyone got to keep their intricate creations as trophies of their hard work.

“The Quiz: Amazing Animals” included a short slide show introducing interesting animal facts and a game-show like quiz at the end, offering prizes to anyone who could answer the questions. “I Spy with My Little Eye” gave children a chance to search the public gallery high and low for the specimen featured in the photograph that was shown to them. Once the correct answer was given to the station master, they would be given a prize.

The merchandise booth was also bustling with activity as with the Singapore Spirit, the museum offered fantastic discounts on museum goodies that everyone just had to lay their hands on.

Guided Tours

As per tradition, our public gallery guided tours were a big hit. Visitors were brought through and given a thorough description of the specimens in the public gallery.

There was also the behind-the-scenes tour where visitors were brought into the collection rooms of the museum and station masters were present to give them more information and insight into how a museum works. This was a rare opportunity as RMBR has one of the best animal collections from South East Asia and only a small fraction are on public display at the moment. It was certainly an experience for members of the public to see our compactor systems and drawers open to reveal the rich biodiversity of South East Asia and Singapore that RMBR is custodian of, with some specimens more than a hundred years old.

Besides all these, participants in any activities were given a piece of a four-piece puzzle, which can be redeemed after the participants have participated in most of the activities.

Overall, the open house was a huge success and we would like to thank everyone for their help, generous donations and support. Special thanks to Tan Heok Hui for all the photographs taken.

We hope to see you at the next Open House!

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