Friday 12 June 2015

Guide to Children's Season: Masak Masak 2015 at the NMS!

The annual Children's Season is back! From now till 28th June, there'll be dedicated children's exhibitions and interactive activities at various museums and heritage institutions to keep the young ones entertained this June holidays. Best part of that is that admission is free for all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents!

A key event of Children's Season is Masak Masak which returns this year for it's second edition at the National Museum of Singapore. We visited NMS last year to check it out and we had so much fun that we were excited to be invited to the media preview of Masak Masak 2015.

This year's installationsfeatures local artistes like Jeremy Hiah and Koeh Sia Yong as well as Singaporean actress, Jeanette Aw who debuts her illustrations in an interactive installation. There are also showcases by students from SOTA, NAFA and NUS and works by international artistes like Mademoiselle Maurice from France and Crystal Wagner from the USA. 

Aside from that, a series of special programmes will be conducted by some of the above mentioned artistes for kids and their families to enjoy together.

This year, Masak Masak 2015 also introduces a storybook titled Baby Block's Day out which is a guide to the exhibition and describes bonding moments that parents can share with their kids. I found this especially useful in helping me introduce and guide Kaitlin through the exhibits.

There are so many amazing exhibits to explore and you are probably wondering which one to start off with..well, here's a guide which hopefully will help you in planning your "route" round the exhibits!

1. Rotunda | Level 1
Spectrum of Paper by
Mademoiselle Maurice (France)

This colourful rainbow origami suspension is just so beautiful! If you stand right in the middle and look up, you'll see the whole spectrum of colours. It's honestly such an eye-catching piece that I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.

This exhibit carries on to the Salon, that's located on the same level.

2. Salon | Level 1
Spectrum of Paper by
Mademoiselle Maurice (France)

At the Salon, you'll see more of Mademoiselle Maurice's intricate origami creations in the form of a mural. The colourful origami birds and flowers were created in response to Sol's Journey - a collaboration between Mademoiselle Maurice, Jeanette Aw and Jeremy Hiah.

Here you'll be able to bond with your child while learning the art of Origami. Origami paper is available in a box together with other materials for a hands on activity where you can make your own puppet (part of another exhibit - Queen of the Forest). Do note that the box is given out based on a minimum donation of $2 at the counter located at the Salon.

3. Salon | Level 1
Sol's Journey by
Mademoiselle Maurice (France)
Jeanette Aw and Jeremy Hiah (Singapore)

This exhibit is inspired by Jeanette Aw's latest illustrated book, Sol's World: Somebody to Love. Here, Sol is a curious young girl on a quest to find the answers to her endless questions.

If you're interested in getting Jeanette Aw's book, good news! You'll be able to purchase it at the Museum Label shop located on the same level at $19.

4. Salon | Level 1
Queen of the Forest by
Jeremy Hiah (Singapore)

In response to Jeanette Aw's illustration of Sol, Jeremy Hiah explores natures with his adaption of a local children's folktale, Queen of the Forest. This is presented in the form of wayang kulit (shadow puppetry where both young and old will surely be enthralled by the enchanting tale of nature with lights, shadows and movement.

You can catch the puppetry performance on 13 & 14 June, 20 & 21 June and 8 & 9 August at 2.30pm. Each session is 20 minutes.

Having had a brief experience with wayang kulit while in Drama CCA back during my secondary school days, I was happy and pretty excited to see that they brought this old traditional art form that's of puppetry to introduce to the kids of today's generation.

Kaitlin tried her hand at making her own shadow puppet. When purchasing the box of materials (minimum $2 donation at the counter at the Salon and comes with origami materials as well), kids can choose from making either a squirrel or rabbit shadow puppet. Do note that these were the only two animals available when we visited but I think the animals may vary. There are tables and chairs available for kids and families to sit down and guide the children in D-I-Ying their own puppets. It's pretty easy to do and if you aren't quite sure of how to go about it, don't worry there are staff on site who would be able to assist. After making their own puppets, kids can try their hand at performing at the stage.

Kaitlin enjoyed colouring her shadow puppet and it was a good opportunity for us to sit down and rest for awhile. I asked Kaitlin to go behind the screen to try her hand at moving the puppet and I was pretty surprised that she was able to move it herself without much instruction and any help from me!

If this exhibit and activity has sparked your child's interest in shadow puppetry, there's also a fun and interactive puppetry workshop conducted by Jeremy Hiah. Make your own shadow puppets and bring your child's story to life with characters from and Asian folk tale. This workshop runs on 13, 20 and 27 June and 10.30am and it is a 1 1/2 hour session located at the Seminar Room on Level 2. Tickets can be bought via SISTIC and are priced at $20 (excludes SISTIC booking fee). Each ticket admits one parent and child (4-7 years old) and includes all the materials needed for the workshop. Do note that each workshop is limited to 15 parent-child pairs so better to book early!

5. Salon | Level 1
Simple Pleasures in Life
Jeanette Aw (Singapore)

This installation by Jeanette Aw is sure to be a hit among the children as they can be part of it themselves and contribute by colouring on the beautifully illustrated mural whilst discovering what it means to be truly happy by looking at the things and people around them and appreciating the simple things in life that make them smile.

I don't know about the kids, but even I would be happy to colour on a wall! What's more for the
kids who have gotten into trouble for colouring/painting on the walls at home. This is a fantastic opportunity for them to get creative and discover what happiness is.

This was one of the installations that Kaitlin spent quite a fair bit of time at. She literally coloured to her heart's content!

6. Salon | Level 1
Life's Best Journey is with The One You Love by

Jeanette Aw (Singapore)

Just opposite the previous installation, the young ones can etch out what makes them happy on the wall. They are free to etch out whatever they like and at the end of it when the entire wall has been etched they'll be able to see a bigger picture that appears!

7.  Concourse | Level 1
Dancing Solar Flowers by

Alexandre Dang (France)

By blending renewable energy from the Sun with art, French artist Alexandre Dang transforms a field of orchids into a beautiful piece of work that's poetic and playful. This installation's great for getting children to think about solar energy and other sustainable energy sources as well as to think about the environment.

Kaitlin was pretty intrigued by this. She stood there for quite awhile looking at the flowers move and even went up to the tiny bridge to look at them from another angle. I tried to explain to her why the flowers were able to move, but she wasn't able to understand much so we just continued admiring the installation.

8.  Concourse | Level 1
Garden Games: Flag Attack!; Tilt!; Hello, Hello?; Can or Not? by

SOTA students (Singapore)

Flag Attack! is a large-scale version of the old-school flag eraser game that I'm sure most of us parents are familiar with. Kaitlin couldn't really flip the erasers so I suggested that she could try and place them on top instead.

Tilt! is a mash-up of the old-school pinball machines at arcades and ball-in-maze puzzles that we parents probably used to frequently buy from the school bookshop. Objective of the game is to get the ball out of the maze by spinning it.

Out of the four games, Kaitlin enjoyed this the most! Probably cos she enjoys mazes and also because it was one of the easiest games for her to play independently.

Hello, Hello? was inspired by the tin can telephone. Kaitlin has tried the tin can telephone game with her classmates at school before, so this was a familiar game for her. I didn't manage to take a picture of this garden game as I was playing with Kaitlin but what it looks like is a giant flower with cups connected with colourful strings.

Can or Not? is the giant adapted version of Ring-a-Bottle. Children have to toss hoops round these colourful cans. Kaitlin couldn't toss it cos well as you can see she is about the same height as the hoop lol so I encouraged her to pick it up and put them through the cans instead.

9.  Canyon | Basement
Memory Stations by

Koeh Sia Yong and NAFA students (Singapore)

After having fun at Level 1, head one floor down to the Basement for Canyon - an exhibit of woodblock prints, an art form that gained prominence in our country after World War Two.

Explore the intricate art of woodblock printing with the young ones as you take a walk down memory lane together. Artist Koeh Sia Yong used woodblocks to reflect Singapore's changing geographical landscapes in the 1950s and 60s. In this collaboration, Koeh mentors students from his alma mater (NAFA) in creating prints that capture moving stories of childhood memories and family life, which visitors young and old can easily relate to. 

Over here, children can get creative and make their own imprints using the modern stamps provided. Kaitlin enjoyed stamping away with the various stamp and though some of the tables were a little high for her, she was so into it that she was mostly on tip-toes creating her own print!

10.  Canyon | Basement
Wanderlust by

Crystal Wagner (USA)

While at the basement, you'll definitely notice a captivating and colourful exhibit created from simple materials like crepe paper and plastic bags. Artist Crystal Wagner recreates Earth's many glorious landscapes into an enchanting forest that the kids can explore by crawling under overhanging branches and making their way through narrow thicket passageways. 

Adults can join in the fun and though it required quite a huge amount of flexibility and getting down on my knees, it's quite possible and it's pretty interesting to see the exhibit from lower angles, kind of like viewing it from our child's perspective. Babygirl was initially apprehensive to go through the tunnels but when I reassured that I was around she was all amped up and moving around so fast that needless to say, I had some difficulty playing catching with her!

11.  Perform @PLAY | Level 3Luma-City by
Lim Kim and Alfred Lim from NUS Division of Industrial Design (Singapore) 

In case you miss it out, there's also an exhibit on level 3 which you can get to via escalators and if you've a pram no worries as there are lifts as well.

This immersive play-space is filled with toy vehicles that leave glowing trails when the kids push them around. They'll sure to be surprised and amazed by the luminescent trails that appear and gradually fade beneath their feet. It's pretty dark so if you have young ones it might be good to keep an eye on them as the vehicles may run over their toes and the more enthusiastic kids may push away without noticing them.

Kaitlin was initially a a little afraid to try this as it was dark and there were many big kids pushing away, however when the crowd got smaller she tried pushing the vehicles around and started having fun looking at the lights that appeared beneath her feet. I feel the older kids would have more fun with this, but no harm bringing the little ones to try it out and if they aren't keen to can observe the beautiful lights from the side.

12.  Front Lawn | Outside National Museum of SingaporePlaygrounds on the Lawn 

Before you leave, don't forget to head to the front lawn for some bouncy castle fun!

Kids get a chance to play on these inflatable playgrounds which are bouncy castle versions of the mosaic playgrounds at public housing estates that we are all familiar with. There's the iconic dragon playground as well as the watermelon and elephant.

They had these bouncy castles at last year's Masak Masak and it was evidently a hit with the kids. Kaitlin was afraid to get on it last year so she missed out on the bouncy good fun so I was really glad that they brought it back this year!

Good news is that this year, Kaitlin wanted to try it out :D When we were done with all the exhibits, it was close to Kaitlin's nap time but that didn't stop her from telling me that she wanted to go on the bouncy castles and she was trying to pull me out of NMS to the front lawn.

The bouncy castles are open for play every weekend at 10am-12 noon and 4pm-6pm. It can get pretty sunny so I would suggest applying sunscreen for the kids and getting them to wear caps. If you need to beat that heat, Momolato is on site selling gelato and this year they've got a special SG50 flavour - Good Old Days, along with other ice cream and popsicle flavours. They're open every weekend from 10am-6pm.

There are also two installations on the lawn that are part of the 30 LifeStories - Remebering Parks project by Singapore Furniture Industries Council, co-presented by Sculpture Society (Singapore) and supported by NParks.

Our day at NMS didn't exactly end on a good note as Kaitlin threw a tantrum from having a lack of sleep :/ but we definitely had lots of fun going around NMS. Good thing that we managed to explore all the the different exhibits and that Kaitlin got to have some learning fun along the way! She's been wanting to go back to the bouncy castles, so I'm pretty sure we'll be back at Masak Masak 2015 for another round of great fun.
If you are wondering where to bring the kids to this June Holidays, I recommend checking out Masak Masak 2015! The exhibits will certainly engage and entertain the young ones and I find it a good way of introducing museums, history and different art forms to them, and at the same time a good opportunity for us parents to bond with our kids as we share about childhood memories.

Disclaimer: We were invited to the media preview of Masak Masak 2015 at the National Museum of Singapore. All opinion are views are my own and were not influenced by any external factors. 

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