The port of Singapore is recognised as one of the busiest in the world, yet we know very little of it and what goes on behind that well oiled machine everyday. Thankfully there is the Singapore Maritime Gallery that allows regular people like you and I a peek into Singapore’s busy maritime industry.
It’s a rather small gallery but filled with lots of stuff for kids to be busy with, and enough information for their parents to gloss over. Even before you enter, there are things that grab your attention. Take your time to check them out. Our little ones were really intrigued by the anchor located just at the gallery’s entrance – great learning opportunity there.
Because of the approach the Singapore Maritime Gallery has taken, by merging a variety of hands-on activities to share information, I get the idea it is very much catered to a younger audience. Not that there isn’t enough information to wow an adult, but the delivery of a lot of information was presented in a rather child-friendly manner.
Most of it was really fun and innovative, and the kids loved it all, and as a parent, I’m glad they enjoyed it (because we’ve been to place that they would simply zip through when all I want to do is stay and read all the plaques), but as an adult, there are areas in which I would probably skip.
I really love the innovative use of props – for example, there’s a real life 20-foot container within the gallery which visitors have to walk through to get through from one section to another. Within it, there are examples of the different kind of products that get delivered by sea, as well as the quantities they are shipped in.
This really really cool area was probably where we spent the longest. It shows the different kinds of ship that are commonly found at Singapore’s port, but to us it was simply known as the place where we race ships. It’s good that it was rather quiet when we visited on a Saturday morning, because we created quite a din cheering our ships on. There are little stools that shorties can stand on to give them a better view.
Plus point: Check out the ship’s hull below! Coolness.
Singapore is the largest manufacturer of offshore oil rigs – I didn’t know either. I found it fascinating that the floor of the section dedicated to this awesome fact not only showed models of oil rigs, but that the floor of this area was made of the same material that the walking surface of oil rigs area. But no, my kids weren’t interested. Because they’ve been to this gallery before, and they know that the star of the show is next.
You’ll get to be try out being captain of cruise ships, coast guard patrol boats, container ships or speed boats without getting your feet wet. But be warned – if you choose the ‘stormy day’ settings, you might find yourself reaching for your sea sick pills.
But if you’re with kids, know that each session only lasts a couple of minutes, so everyone can take turns and have a go.
Trying to spot the different kinds of ships out on the sea with an awesome pair of binoculars is also fun. We just missed one of the free tours but overheard the guide sharing that the little boats near land act as water taxis by delivering miscellaneous supplies to the bigger ships out at sea waiting to call at the port. A captain could say “I say my good man, I hear that the chicken rice in Singapore is delicious” and send for 100 packets for his crew, and that would be delivered to them via these little boats. Cool.
Past the wall of knots is the little play area. Kids who’ve spent an hour steering cruise ships won’t remember their tiredness because small though the play area may be, it’s got some cool stuff to do. And an awesome view to boot.
Older museums and galleries are now adapting and changing to shed their fuddy duddy image and trying to incorporate new technologies to welcome younger guests. The Singapore Maritime Gallery is only 2 years young and it’s entirely comfortable with it’s fun interactive games for kids – You can choose to have your photo taken with the attire of the various occupations in the maritime industry super imposed on you, and then email yourself the pic.
And for more old school kids, there is a vertical LEGO wall (why didn’t anyone else think of this!) and good ole colouring sheets.
There are no food options except Stewords Riverboat, a replica of an 1800s Mississippi steamboat. It houses Sante Fe Tex Mex Grill and while prices for regular meals are rather steep, the kids meals were about $10 so we gave it a shot. Portions were small but the experience of dining on a river boat that rocks in the water was priceless.
After lunch, we explored the boat, which was another adventure in itself. So it’s a good option for anyone who wants the feel of being on a boat but isn’t keen on going out to sea.
Getting there is extremely easy – Located at Marina South Pier (where one would board a boat to Kusu Island, St John’s Island and Sisters Island), it’s a 2-minute walk from Marina South Pier MRT station. Admission is free.
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