The PlayDome is a new creative platform by the National Museum of Singapore (partnered with Playeum, The Play Museum) for children aged 3 and above. It encourages children to express their unique voices through meaningful and fun play activities based on their visual inspirations and experiences drawn from the galleries and objects found in the museum.
This inaugural event was held from 14 May to 26 June 2011, which happened to be the last day of the Mid-Year holidays. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too crowded when we were there at around 11am. I guess most people may have already visited the place and we were probably one of the last few? LOL.
This exploratory space consists of dedicated zones, where children get to play with props, materials and get really hands-on in creating original art works inspired by the collection in the museum’s Living Galleries and its iconic Dome.
First, we went to the “Gardens @ The PlayDome”, which was an open field at the back of the Museum (facing Fort Canning Road). Here, the participants were encouraged to exercise their creativity by drawing on a transparent disc with a pre-drawn arc. Below are 2 photos of my children exercising their creativity … 😉
Next, we went to the “Black Box” where the children were introduced to the traditional practices in films, wayang and fashion. Here, the children learned about Singapore’s culture and history. There was also a giant kaleidoscope where my kids had a lot of fun creating beautiful patterns with props such as clothes, sharps and even their own bodies.
At the Wayang Play Stage, the children got to colour the wayang face masks. They were supposed to understand the meanings of the colors, shapes and lines on the wayang faces. But I guess they were so excited that they just wanted to have fun and ignored all these painting guidelines. Well, kids are kids, right?
Finally before we left the Black Box, the children got to play and interact with historical footage of how our ancestors spent their childhood. The children would interact with the film and their interactions were recorded and played back on a TV 30 seconds later. Seeing themselves on TV was probably more amusing than watching the footage itself.
Of all the exhibition halls, my kids were especially interested in “Happy Hawker @ Sensory Studio”. Here, children can make their own pretend food and peddle them in makeshift stalls. My kids spent almost 2 hours in this hall alone, making roti prata, satay, tok tok mee, etc. It’s definitely a new experience for them to learn how Singapore in the 70s was like.
The Sun Deck was a small outdoor space on Level 3 and parents were encouraged to use this reflective space to relax, recharge and even engage in some quiet activities such as reading. There were many dome-inspired shapes in this space. The installation with the wheels was one of them. The wheels could be gently spun around by children. Unfortunately, my children didn’t really enjoy the Sun Deck and we were out of this area in less than 10 minutes. ;-(
Just outside the blackbox was an area where you could draw freely on a blank paper your wishes for the museum. The paper was then pasted on the glass wall and the kids were very satisfied when they pasted their creation on the wall personally. LOL!
Since the PlayDome was created as an exploratory space for children’s voices, naturally there were a lot of drawing opportunities for them to express their imagination. Level 2 of the museum was another area where the children could put down their wishes for Singapore and then fold it into a box. These boxes were then stacked onto a huge Singapore map.