On my quest for new museums, it was just a matter of time until I finally made it to the ArtScience Museum in Singapore. It had been on the list for some time and when a meeting got cancelled, I decided to head over and check it out. I had read about the permanent “Future World – Where Art Meets Science” exhibition. The approach of merging art and digital technologies sounded interesting. However, this museum is not a “typical” contemporary art museum. Its innovative and participative approach make it a must-see during your stay in Singapore.
The exhibition’s main theme is to explore the relationship between art and science. It is divided into four major topics: Nature, Town, Park and Space. 15 interactive artworks by teamLab – they call themselves “ultra-technologists” using digital technologies as a medium for art – invite adults and children to actively participate.
The concept is very inclusive and not like a “typical” museum where you are only allowed to watch, you have to be quiet and are not allowed to touch anything. I think it is definitely a way to bring people to the museum who are usually not to keen on a visit.
In the “Nature” section, visitors are positioned within the artwork and can experience it the same way as we experience nature. The first room is inspired by Japanese mythology: an installation depicting birds as an embodiment of the sun. It actually felt like a 3D experience on a rollercoaster.
The next room takes you on a virtual trip to the sea with relaxing music. It is, again, in the style of Japanese paintings where oceans, rivers and water are depicted by curvilinear lines giving the impression that the water itself is alive.
A slide “through the fruit field” takes visitors from “Nature” to “Town”. This section is geared to kids. Nevertheless, I had the impression that a lot of adults also seemed to enjoy the section. We definitely did 🙂 On an interactive table, visitors can build roads with cubes and within seconds they are projected on the table and the screen.
Right next to it, you can create your own vehicle – old school: a piece of paper and crayons.
This paper is then scanned and printed as a stencil for a 3D model of your car or truck.
But this simple paper model is not the last step.
Even cooler: you can scan it again and then the car will appear on the big screen driving the streets of the virtual city!
The next section “Park” invites you to a colourful room. In my opinion, it is more exciting if you come with a group of kids who enjoy the interactive playground.
My absolute highlight was the installation “Crystal Universe”, which is part of the “Space” section.
Space has long been studied by scientists as well as artists. Even though so much effort has been put into exploring space, the majority is still unknown to us. The installation uses teamLab’s “4D Vision technology” to virtually take you into space, to galaxies, stars and planets.
Almost 180,000 (!) LED lights contribute to that interactive experience. Needless to say, it is one of Singapore’s most Instagram-ed places 😉
The question I asked myself after the visit is if you can really call it “Art Meets Science”. I did understand the intention of the topic but apart from the “Nature” section and the “Crystal Universe”, I am not entirely sure if we can call all these sections art. But, who decides on what is art and what is not? Maybe that is the question that the exhibition aims at making us think about? I would rather call it “Museum Meets Tech” or “How a Museum Can Surprise You”.
In any case, I think the museum does a great job by making the exhibition accessible. Children learn that museums are not a sanctuary but rather a great activity during your leisure time (far away from phones, tablets or TVs…). Also for adults it is a great museum if you are usually not comfortable with visiting more traditional exhibitions but want to get started with arts & culture.
Future World – Where Art Meets Science
ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Nearest MRT Stations: Bayfront and Promenade (Circle Line) and Marina Bay Station (North South Line), from there it takes you about 10-15 to walk to the museum. The museum is in the building in front of the Marina Bay Sands resembling a lotus flower.
The museum is open daily (including public holidays) from 10 am until 7 pm (last admission at 6 pm). I recommend to go there early and try to avoid the weekends as the museum can get crowded quickly.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the museum counters. The regular ticket for the exhibition is SGD 17 (about USD 14, EUR 11)* for adults, an all access pass to the museum is SGD 38 (USD 28, EUR 24). Concessions are available for children, students and seniors as well as Singapore residents.
The article above is based on my own experience at the museum and on the texts provided during the exhibition and in the museum folders.
* Exchange rates as of 1 November 2017.