Does museum match for casino?
Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum draws mixed reactions
By Park Si-soo
SINGAPORE ㅡ It could be ideal to place a casino, hotel, top brand shops and luxurious restaurants in one building. But what about adding an art and science museum to the lineup?
Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the new landmark in this city state, made public this “odd” blend on Feb. 19 ㅡ opening white lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum at the giant entertainment complex.
It has drawn mixed reactions from visitors.
Designed by Israeli-born renowned architect Moshe Safdie, it wowed some customers with its unique designs. The building is shaped like a lotus flower in blossom, or 10 fingers. Some of the galleries are located inside these finger-shaped structures.
One of those giving it the thumbs-up was Forum Architects’ founding director Tan Kok Hiang. “The museum looks spectacular _ these quaint shapes blooming upwards and defying gravity,” he was quoted as saying by The Straits Times. Another architect, Mink Tan, also said the museum “is stunning, adds a sense of freshness and is befitting of the Marina Bay area.”
Although most visitors praised the exterior of the building, they said its interior and exhibited works fall short of expectations and do not go in harmony with its exterior looks.
“What matters is what’s inside in a museum, not the building itself. The exhibits are a bit disappointing,” a visitor said, with boredom running deep in the face. “The building is so dramatic and attractive that it fails to highlight what’s inside in it. I don’t think that’s what a museum is for.”
Another visitor called the museum a “mere accessory” to the casino, where children of gamblers idling their time waiting for their fathers awaiting once-in-a-lifetime jackpot.
The museum with 21 galleries on 50,000 square-feet of space hosts four exhibitions: “Travelling the Silk Road,” “Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds,” “Genghis Khan: The Exhibition,” and “ArtScience: A Journey through Creativity.”
More than 200 rare treasures _ gold jewelry, silk robes, pottery and a mummy ㅡ from the Genghis Khan era (1162–1227) are on display in the collection, the largest in scale ever outside of Mongolia, the museum said.
The Silk Road gallery ushers visitors into a nearly 1,500-square-meter of recreated ancient settings featuring life-sized models, engaging videos and hand-on activities, which help visitors imagine the ancient traveling route between AD 600 and BC 1200.
The Shipwrecked gallery shows some 60,000 objects ㅡ ranging from mass-produced ceramics to Chinese blue-and-white dishes and intricate items of finely worked gold ㅡ discovered from a wrecked Chinese cargo ship, which is thought to have capsized in the ninth century on its way to West Asia.
The wooden ship was discovered near Indonesia’s Belitung Island in 1998, the museum explained.
The last part of it, ArtScience, is a permanent exhibition intended to showcases the power of creativity. Objects featured include Leonardo da Vinci’s Flying Machine, a Kongming Lantern, a high-tech Robotic Fish, a molecular model of a Buckyball and an ancient Chinese scroll.
“The ArtScience Museum is Singapore’s new cultural symbol and the premier venue for major international touring exhibitions from the most renowned collections in the world,” said George Tanasijevich, interim chief executive officer of Marina Bay Sands and managing director of global development for Las Vegas Sands Corps.
He boasted the fact that the exhibits regarding the Silk Road were co-organized by the American Museum of Natural History.
The museum’s opening ceremony was literarily “star-studded” ㅡ influential politicians, ranking bureaucrats and Singaporean celebrities attended the event.
The festive mood in the opening ceremony reached a pinnacle with the inaugural operation of a nightly 13-minute water show that features laser, light water movements and graphics all set against the backdrop of the landmark hotel.
Visiting the museum
The ArtScience Museum runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, including weekends and public holidays. Late entry is at 9 p.m. Admission fees are $30 (Singapore dollar) for adult, $27 (senior citizens 65 years old and above), $17 (children aged two to 12), $24.50 (group sales). For more information, visit www.marinabaysands.com/ArtScienceMuseum
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is a multi-functional complex that offers a wide range of entertainment services.
Located in the heart of Singapore’s central business district, the hotel has been regarded as an icon of the nation for its unique exterior design since it opened in April, 2010. It offers a luxury hotel, convention and exhibition facilities, theaters, shopping and dining in the region.