Join our zoo community

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Discussion in 'Singapore' started by Zooish, 30 Apr 2015.

  1. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Sep 2005
    Posts:
    1,165
    Location:
    Sunny Singapore
    A brand new natural history museum, the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (named after the principal donor) was opened to the public on 28th April 2015. It is situated within the National University of Singapore's campus, and is managed by the university's Faculty of Science. The 7-storey building houses over a million plant and animal specimens as part of an important Southeast Asian herbarium and zoological reference. The bulk of these specimens are only accessible for research work. For the public, about 2,500 specimens are displayed in the public gallery which is spread over 2 levels. It is a modest-sized but well planned facility that is a huge improvement over its previous incarnation, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity, which had a tiny and dated public gallery.

    The museum's boulder-like exterior is distinctive, with its use of dark wood cladding and the lack of windows; it was a requirement that very little natural light be allowed into the building to protect the specimens. A section of the facade is seemingly cut away, revealing pockets of native cliff vegetation in terraced planters. Around the building's ground floor are more planters that display different families of plants. There is also a pond housing brackish water fish and mangrove plants.

    Inside, the museum is divided into broad sections like "Plants", "Mammals", "Dinosaurs", with a loosely evolutionary progression as you move through the exhibits. The sections are not clearly divided and often meld into one another. This gives the museum an open feel. The focus of the museum is Southeast Asian biodiversity, with a mix of mounted specimens in glass cases, replica models, interactive interpretives, small live exhibits of native species, and even some touchable specimens. The second level is devoted to Singapore's biodiversity and the museum's heritage.

    Entering the museum, visitors are first teased by a glimpse of the museum's centrepiece - 3 almost complete diplodocid sauropod dinosaur fossils in the central atrium - through an opaque glass wall. The first sections introduce visitors to basic Living Organisms, Plants and Fungi. Past these, the central atrium "Dinosaurs" section comes into full view, with the 3 mounted sauropod fossils. They were unearthed in Wyoming, USA a few years ago and their exact specie(s) has yet to be determined. The largest of the 3 measures 27 metres long. Though not of Southeast Asian origin, the sauropods were purchased by the museum and given top billing to attract interest from a broader demography; the museum is after all self-funded and needs healthy attendance numbers. The rest of the sections are arranged around the atrium, progressing from Arthropods to the vertebrate animals - Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and ending with the largest section on Mammals (the museum's biggest taxidermised specimen is a Gaur). In between these sections are a couple of thematic rooms, one on marine cycles and another on tropical rainforests.

    The much smaller second level of the museum showcases Singapore's natural history and native species. It also traces the history of the museum and displays historic specimens, including a flycatcher collected by Alfred Russell Wallace and given to the museum's past incarnation (Raffles Museum) in the early 1930s. Visitors can get a bird's eye view of the dinosaurs, including 2 suspended pterosaur skeletal models, from the second level as well. There is also a function space on this level that can be used to house temporary exhibits.

    Tickets to the museum are not sold at the door, but available online with fixed entry time slots. This ensures optimum viewing experience for visitors as the flow of visitors into the museum is controlled. You must enter at the stipulated time slot, but you can stay for as long as you want.
     
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    3,734
    Location:
    California, USA
    Thanks for the great review of the new natural history museum, Zooish. It sounds like another high quality biodiversity attraction for Singapore.
     
  3. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,907
    Location:
    New York, USA
  4. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    1 Aug 2010
    Posts:
    4,571
    Location:
    Melbourne, Aust (ex. NZ)
    This looks like its definitely worth a visit Zooish, although I'm not a fan of the ticketing set-up and its not that cheap to get into ($20 for an adult). I'll add it to my list of things to do next time I'm in Singapore :cool:
     
  5. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Sep 2005
    Posts:
    1,165
    Location:
    Sunny Singapore
    I didn't like the ticketing system at first, but after visiting I appreciated the need for it. It makes for a pleasant experience not to have to jostle with crowds ;)
     
  6. SBSConsulting

    SBSConsulting New Member

    Joined:
    9 Jun 2015
    Posts:
    2
    Location:
    Singapore
    It is a very informative write-up. I agree with you that it is a great attraction for the tourists especially, the young children.