24 June 2011

Kids out at the Raffles Museum Open House!

The much awaited Open House at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research is here today and tomorrow!
Throngs of kids and mums and dads are at the Museum even though it's still early in the day. They were looked after by a large contingent of Museum staff and volunteers. I had a peek at the amazing activities going on today.

Fun guided tours of the Gallery bring the animals to life!
The kids are fascinated by the specimens!
Here's one of the many enthusiastic groups of kids!
Much photo-taking and everyone keeps their flash off. Flash photography bleaches the specimens so it's not allowed in the Gallery.
One of my favourites, the Leathery sea turtle that was found in Siglap in 1883. Thanks to the awesome guided tours by the volunteers, this and our other animals may also become the favourites of our kids.
What a surprise! Prof Peter Ng, Director of the Museum also gave a guided tour of the Museum. To a group of VIPs, whom I later learnt were Vice-Chancellors from all over the world.
Prof Leo Tan is also with the VIP group.
The VIP group had a chance to see the Museum and the Museum volunteers at work with the kids. It was great!
There's also public tours of the Real Museum. Only a miniscule portion of the Museum's collection is displayed in the Public Gallery. Most of the existing collection of 500,000 specimens is packed away in compactors and used for research. Kok Oi Yee shows families the Dry Collection where animals are preserved dry. Among them, an amazing collection of birds through the decades.
Further down in the bowels of the Museum, Dr Tan Swee Hee shares more about the wet collection. It is clearly fascinating to mums and dads too. Everyone is taking photos!
Dr Tan has a secret weapon and the kids spot it right away among the specimens.
It's a cute assembly of 'Nemo's with their host anemone created by the talented Toh Chay Hoon. Including an orange patch of eggs near the anemone's body column, being looked after by the Dad, who is smaller than the Mom 'Nemo'. Dr Daphne Fautin recently gave a public lecture and shared lots of info about this relationship.
Dr Tan shares about the recent work on our sea anemones. Including Grace Chua's recent article in the Straits Times about Dr Daphne Fautin's work on sea anemones on Singapore. The visitors are fascinated.
It is clearly a thrill to be able to have a glimpse of what goes on at the Museum.
There's also laboratory workshops! This one allows kids hands-on experience in preparing snail shells. They are working on an invasive snail that has been introduced to Singapore and is causing damage to the habitat.
Tan Siong Kiat shows the kids how to do this rather tedious and delicate task. "So much algae!" one of the kids was commenting as he scrubbed gently on the fragile shell.
While Toh Chay Hoon is giving a workshop on how to make your own cute clay animals. These kids and mums and dads are learning how to make a 'Nemo'.
Kids can also learn how to make a Knobbly sea star. There's photos of the real thing to help observe and learn about our wildlife.
Dr Tan Heok Hui was everywhere taking photos of all the goings on.
Joelle Lai takes care of those who have wandered away from their groups, with a hand sanitiser for anyone who has accidentally touched the exhibits. These are preserved with toxic materials and should not be touched.
Greasi had arranged a lovely breakfast and lunch for the hardworking volunteers.
There are lots of other fun activities for kids as well. Like animal face painting!
Colouring face masks is also fun!
There's a quiz too! Every tiny space at the Museum has been used for the Open House!
The quiz begins with a talk on Singapore's Bizarre Animals. Alas, I couldn't stay as there were lots of kids coming in and the space was really tiny.
The Open House is still on tomorrow 9am-5pm.

We are all looking forward to more space to showcase more biodiversity and do more activities with kids, families, students and the general public. Our dreams will come true with the new museum building!

Currently, the public can glimpse only less than 1% of the total collection of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, at its tiny but well-loved public gallery. The new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum will have 10 times the current museum's size devoted to exhibition space, as well as more classroom and activity space.

You CAN make a difference for the new museum!
Funds are still needed to make this museum a reality. A website has been launched to accept donations from the public. Your gift will help to create a museum that we all can be proud of! You can donate online, by cheque or call 6516-5082 to make donations in cash or other gifts.

Can the public see anything of the collection now?
Don't worry if you missed the Open House. You can still visit the RMBR public gallery at other times. Displaying fascinating specimens from Singapore and beyond, here's more about what you can see at the gallery.

Opening hours: 9am-5pm, Mon to Fri, closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
Location: Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, link to campus map.
Contact: 65-6516-5082

Guided and group tours of the Public Gallery is available, pre-registration required. More details on the RMBR website.

Get updates on the new museum via the RMBR news blog and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum facebook page.

MORE about the new museum including:

  • What's so special about our natural history collection?
  • Why is this collection NOT displayed at the National Museum?
  • Would people want to visit the new museum?
  • Is a natural history museum important to conservation?

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