Step into a world where learning is not just observed but actively experienced.
During the school holidays, consider the Children’s Museum Singapore (CMSG) special exhibition, where your young explorers can embark on a journey through time and imagination. From interactive science experiments to captivating art installations, the exhibition provided an immersive learning experience for children of all ages. It is an invitation to discover the transformative power of play in learning while unraveling the extraordinary legacy of Lee Kuan Yew, a towering figure in Singapore’s history.
Discover lesser-known stories about his resourcefulness, innovation, and unwavering commitment to his family and country. We speak with CMSG’s Museum Director, Mrs Wai-Yin Pryke on this extraordinary world of wonder in tribute to the most prominent politician of our time.
Popspoken: Looking ahead, what long-term impact do you hope the “LKY100 – The Boy Who Became Prime Minister” exhibition will have?
Wai-Yin Pryke: Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a pivotal figure in Singapore’s history. However, the younger generation may not be so familiar with who he was. As we celebrate his 100th birth anniversary, we felt it is a good opportunity for children to learn about his achievements and contributions in an engaging, educational, and relatable manner. Through learning about Mr Lee’s life, we hope the exhibition will enable children to gain a deeper understanding of Singapore’s story and our founding values which remain relevant to us today, and foster a sense of pride at how far we have come.
We also hope to inspire our young visitors through Mr Lee’s story and encourage them to pursue their dreams and ‘follow that rainbow’, as Mr Lee famously once said; and show that they too can make a
difference to Singapore and build on the legacy of our forefathers.
Popspoken: Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is often celebrated for his leadership and nation-building efforts. How does the exhibition strike a balance between showcasing his achievements and revealing his more personal, relatable qualities?
Wai-Yin Pryke: The exhibition places more emphasis on Mr Lee’s formative years and the stories from before he stepped into his role in politics to make it easier for children to relate to him. In addition to his leadership and nation-building efforts, sections of the exhibition take a closer look at his childhood, his schooling years, and projects that he was passionate about such as the cleaning and greening of Singapore. These sections help showcase a more personal side to Mr Lee and the values that shaped his life.
For example, the Cabinet of Curiosity highlights Mr Lee’s growing up years, wartime experience, and career as a lawyer through original items used, owned by, or related to Mr Lee. These include a Telok Kurau East School (now Telok Kurau Primary School) admission register bearing his English name “Lee Harry”; a tennis racket presented to Mr Lee in 1973 that shows his penchant for leading a healthy lifestyle; a pair of his black leather shoes and writing pen set.
A barrister wig owned by Mr Lee’s wife Mdm Kwa Geok Choo is also on display at the exhibition, alongside a write-up on Mr Lee’s time studying law at Fitzwilliam College in the UK. Upon being called to the Bar, Mr and Mrs Lee bought barrister wigs as part of the attire they had to wear in court, and they were made by Ravenscroft, an established wig and robe maker in London.
Popspoken: Could you provide insights into the curatorial process behind “LKY100 – The Boy Who Became Prime Minister”. How did you gather perspectives from the community, especially the Little Ambassadors, to shape the content of the exhibition?
Wai-Yin Pryke: As part of the exhibition’s curatorial process, CMSG engaged 13 Little Ambassadors (aged 5-7 and 9-11 years old) and their parents for in-depth focus group discussions (FGDs) to gather their views on what they would like to see in the exhibition and what they currently knew of Mr Lee. The feedback helped to set the curatorial premise and key themes of the exhibition. For example, some child participants of the FGDs said they wanted to know about Mr Lee as a child, while the parents were more interested in his values and legacy. This led us to showcasing both sides of Mr Lee in the exhibition.
We had to be very creative in order to engage children on relatively serious and potentially unfamiliar subject matter. Because of this, we designed the exhibition to be colourful, featuring comic-style illustrations with a mix of objects, multimedia elements, visuals, activity kits and trivia.
Popspoken: The travelling teaser exhibition and the involvement of young creators through the Singapore Dreaming competition seem to emphasise the intergenerational aspect of Mr. Lee’s legacy. How do you believe these initiatives will foster a connection between different age groups and their understanding of Singapore’s history?
The travelling teaser exhibition will feature artworks submitted by young creators who participated in CMSG’s “Singapore Dreaming” competition. The artworks depict the children’s hopes and dreams for Singapore in a comic format. The travelling exhibition is also complemented by storytelling sessions at selected public libraries. It will provide a glimpse of what is covered in the main exhibition and encourage the public to come to CMSG to visit the full exhibition.
We hope that the exhibition, travelling exhibition, and programmes will help our young visitors learn more about and be more engaged with our history, and in the process foster a deeper connection across generations through our shared heritage.
Visit the Children’s Museum Singapore by pre-booking your slot here.