Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s-2000s - Trace the Evolution of Singapore as a Travel Destination

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The National Museum‚Äôs new, immersive travel-themed showcase titled Now Boarding:¬†Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s‚Äď2000s explores Singapore as a popular¬†travel destination.

Venue: National Museum of Singapore, Exhibition Gallery, Basement Level
Dates: 27 May 2023 - 25 Feb 2024
Admission: Free for Singaporeans and PRs

Now Boarding, Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s‚Äď2000s offers perspectives about Singapore as a popular destination for travellers across two centuries, through the eyes of those who arrived at our shores from past to present.

Set against the backdrop of Singapore‚Äôs colonial past and its post-independence decades up to the present, it takes visitors through a specially curated selection of close to 600 material culture and visual icons ranging from postcards, posters and prints, to travel paraphernalia and everyday objects that explore the way Singapore has presented itself ‚Äď and been presented ‚Äď to the world over the years.

Snap A Pic With The Iconic Flight Information Flip Board

The exhibition‚Äôs travel-inspired experience starts the moment visitors step into the museum, as they are first greeted by the iconic Changi Airport flight information display flip board at the museum‚Äôs Rotunda. The flip board seeks to recreate the ‚Äúflipping‚ÄĚ function of the board and the departure experience at the airport that it was associated with.

The customised message on the flip board invites visitors to ‚Äúcheck-in‚ÄĚ to receive a ‚Äúboarding pass‚ÄĚ to enter the exhibition and discover its four key sections that are presented as ‚Äúchapters‚ÄĚ of a travel guidebook that revolve round the themes of transport, accommodation, food and beverage, sights and shopping.

Getting Around

The first section, Getting Around, explores Singapore’s reputation as a global hub via the different modes of international arrival, highlighting the island-city’s links to major shipping and aviation routes in the world throughout its history. This section also features the various means of domestic transport that both tourists and locals took to get around Singapore over the years.

From the rickshaws and trishaws that populated the streets of Singapore for almost five decades since the late 19th century, to the modern Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system, the section also outlines the evolution of Singapore’s local transport system that has become known for its convenience and efficiency.

As a global travel hub, Singapore’s connections to the world are best represented by our national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA), arguably the nation’s most renowned brand ambassador. In addition to other SIA-related artefacts, be sure not to miss the display of SIA’s iconic first-generation Suites cabin seat from its A380 aircraft, which was added to the National Collection last year.

Places To Stay

Places to Stay investigates how the various accommodation offerings in Singapore shaped travellers‚Äô impressions of the island-city. The grand dame Raffles Hotel plays a prominent role in this section as it demonstrates how hotels in the early 20th century propagated romanticised visions of Singapore as the ‚ÄúExotic East‚ÄĚ, represented by its iconic doorman uniform still in use today. Fast forward to present day, where world-class hotels such as the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) distinguish us as a global city, with unique offerings catered to the experience-driven traveller.

Eating Out

Eating Out, captures the wide range of food options in our culinary landscape, which reflects our culturally diverse yet cosmopolitan nature that is best exemplified by our ubiquitous hawker culture. Visitors in this section will discover a range of kitchen utensils and tools used by hawkers past and present, complemented by an array of kopitiam cups, drinking glasses, soft drink bottles and advertisement trays that were a common sight in coffeeshops from the 1950s to the 2000s.

An assortment of restaurant menus from the 1950s to 2000s offering a glimpse into the diverse range of international and multicultural cuisine that is testament to the vibrancy of Singapore’s food and beverage landscape. Using an interactive touch screen, visitors can also browse through the pages of each restaurant menu, which includes those of iconic restaurants such as Allen & Wright Family Restaurant (A&W), which was the first fast food chain to open in Singapore. 

Sights and Shopping

Sights and Shopping introduces visitors to the various attractions, entertainment, and retail offerings that make our nation a fun and vibrant lifestyle destination. From past Singapore Tourism Board posters with catchy taglines to memorabilia from Zouk (one of Singapore’s most internationally renowned nightlife hotspots), this section depicts the plethora of sights and entertainment experiences that visitors have included in their itineraries from the late 19th century until today.

This section also underscores how Singapore’s greenery, multiculturalism and modernity continue to be aspects of her identity touted with pride. 

Pop-up Room Experiences

Complementing the Now Boarding, Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s‚Äď2000s exhibition is the NMS disco¬†pop-up room. Visitors can immerse in this entertainment room with its 1980s-style d√©cor and retro-future furnishing that is inspired by the discotheques in Singapore at the time.

The room features an interactive that invites visitors to dance along to retro groovy beats, where they can download their dance videos for keepsake through their Heritage ID accounts.

A series of pop-up rooms that respond to the themes of the exhibition located at different spaces around the museum to complement the larger immersive experience of Now Boarding. Two other rooms, inspired by the themes of transportation and hotel accommodation, will be launched later in early August, accompanied with a theatrical audio tour. More details will be shared closer to date.

Complementary Exhibition Programmes

During the period of the exhibition, visitors may look forward to a variety of  activities, from workshops, art jamming sessions, to exclusive trails and tea time treats, and talks. Each month’s programmes focuses on a theme in the exhibition, with the months of May and June on Getting Around, July on Places to Stay, September on Eating Out, and October on Sights and Shopping. The months of August and November will focus on all exhibition sections, with major events such as the museum’s programming for National Day and Night Fest taking place in August and a special open house programme planned for the closing weekend of the exhibition.

More details to come, stay tune to


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This article is prepared by

Jiarong Yu
Daddy to 2 adorable little ones. Misses them the moment they are not around, regrets missing them the moment they are around.

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