LAUNCH OF MUSEUM @ MY QUEENSTOWN – SINGAPORE’S FIRST GROUNDUP COMMUNITY MUSEUM

The family-run provisions shop, Thin Huat, had been serving the community for more than five decades. Helmed by the affable Ang family, the humble shop was a throwback to the 1960s where provisions shops were sparse and non-airconditioned, and offered payments by credit, purchases in small quantities, free deliveries and freshly grated coconut. Competition from chain supermarkets, rising operational costs and the proprietors’ declining age and health prompted its closure in April 2018. On the last week of its operations, elderly residents and regular customers in the ageing neighbourhood hovered around the stall, took photographs with the shop keepers and reluctantly parted company with the Tanglin Halt institution and its loquacious proprietors.

tanglin halt block 78

The iconic Thin Huat signage, its decades-old weighing scales and sacks bags will be displayed at Museum @ My Queenstown, a ground-up community museum which serves as a repository of social memories and a focal point for social networks where members of the community interpret, negotiate and form their identities and relationships with their neighbours and the neighbourhood where they live in. The communal space operates on a sustainable model which receives no government funding and is entirely funded, managed and curated by residents in Queenstown.

Mr Kwek Li Yong, Co-Founder and President of My Community, said, “Museum @ My Queenstown is an important establishment which serves as an anchor for localised memories where residents can interpret, negotiate and form their identities in an ever-changing environment. The museum narrates the endearing story of the common man, immortalises our collective memory as a community, celebrates the little things which makes Queenstown special and reconnects individuals to the social networks in the community. On a broader note, the museum is a representation of how the community – businesses, religious institutions, politicians and residents – can come together to document and preserve things that are culturally significant to the community.”

Museum at My Queenstown

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Member-of-Parliament (MP) for Tanjong Pagar GRC (Queenstown) agrees, “Museum @ My Queenstown is a testament to the growing maturity of the cultural and heritage sector in Singapore where residents take the front seat in the planning and negotiation with government agencies, curating the exhibitions and programmes, managing the day-to-day operations of the museum, and even funding the museum space. By involving the community in every phase of planning, the museum imbues a greater sense of belonging, rootedness and attachment to the community.”

A community museum in the making for 9 years

The idea of an independent ground-up community museum in Queenstown, which provides an avenue for residents to preserve and share the town’s history and heritage, was first mooted in 2010. Over the past five years, My Community has engaged businesses, residents and other stakeholders in Queenstown to collect more than 2,000 photographs, 300 oral histories and 50 artefacts. The civic group has also raised over $250,000 from Queenstown residents and institutions including ABC Brickworks Business Association, Tiong Ghee Temple, Sri Muneeswaran Temple, Faith Methodist Church, Church of the Good Shepherd, Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church, Church of Our Saviour, Queenstown Lutheran Church and Queenstown Baptist Church; charitable foundations including BinjaiTree, Lee Foundation, Ho Bee Foundation, SPH Foundation, SBS Transit Ltd; and numerous current and former Queenstown residents.

iconic block 76 tanglin halt

The current shophouse museum serves as a precursor to the future My Queenstown – Centre of Community Arts and Heritage in Dawson, which comprises an archival centre, a community archaeology centre, permanent and temporary exhibition and programme spaces, a collaborative exhibition space, and offices for community arts and heritage groups.

Highlights of Museum @ My Queenstown:

  • Our Stories: Do you remember them? is an exhibition held in conjunction with the opening of Museum @ My Queenstown. Through a nine-year collection effort, the exhibition showcases physical and digital artefacts from the community that capture Queenstown’s history and heritage and attempts to provoke conversations about its future. One of the highlights in the exhibition is the neon-lit “女皇” (Chinese: Queen) sign and bowling, retrieved from the beloved former Queenstown Cinema and Bowling Alley when it was undergoing demolition in 2013.
  • The programme spaces on the first and second level of the shophouse museum will host a series of talks, seminars and workshops on anything and everything about Queenstown’s history and heritage. The authors on Sherlock Sam, Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low, will be gracing Museum @ My Queenstown on 23 March 2019 to share how they incorporated the history of Queenstown into an exciting detective story. Other notable programmes include the monthly Stories of Queenstown, an interactive session where (ex) resident-speakers are invited to share their personal memories and discuss specific topics including conservation, architecture, sports, popular culture and religion with participants.
  • The archival room of the museum is located on the 2nd level of the shophouse. The room houses a wide collection of old photographs and artefacts contributed by residents and various institutions in Queenstown. They include weighing scales from Thin Huat provisions shop, Palace KTV and Block 74 to 80 signages, and over 2,000 rare photographs of Queenstown.

With effect from 1 March 2019, the operating hours of the museum are:

Day Time
Mondays, Tuesdays & Public Holidays Closed
Wednesdays, Thursday and Sundays 9.30am to 2.30pm
Fridays & Saturdays 9.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 8.30pm

The museum is located at Block 46-3 Commonwealth Drive #01-388 Singapore 140463.

List of upcoming exhibitions and programmes at Museum @ My Queenstown in Q1, 2019.

Programme: Sherlock Sam in Queenstown!
Description:The authors of Sherlock Sam, Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low will be visiting Museum @ My Queenstown to share more about their inspiration behind Sherlock Sam and the Quantum Pair in Queenstown.

Attendees will get to hear the authors talk about the inspiration behind their book, their experiences during the tour and how they incorporated the history of Queenstown into an exciting detective story! As a special treat, one of the characters of the book, Uncle Victor, will also be appearing at the session.
Date: 23 March 2019 (Saturday)
Time:2pm

Programme: Stories of My Queenstown
Description: Stories of My Queenstown is an interactive session where (ex) resident-speakers are invited to share their personal memories and discuss specific topics including conservation, architecture, sports, popular culture and religion with 20 to 25 participants. Each session is about 60 minutes long. The main objective of the programme is to provide a platform for (ex)residents to reunite and interact with one another through collective memory.
Date: Every Third Saturday
Time: 2pm

Upcoming speakers include ex-residents Kelvin Ang, Joseph Nair, Nicky Loh, etc

Programme: Sketching Memories!
Description: The workshops aim to enhance the community’s understanding of local food delights that are iconic of Queenstown/Tanglin Halt.
Date: Every Second Saturday
Time: 2pm

Participants will learn basic painting techniques and complete a final art piece of selected food delights for the specific workshop. They will bring home works that offer opportunities for conversations with family and friends about the food heritage of Queenstown.

Programme: Curatorial Tour
Description: The workshops aim to enhance the community’s understanding of local food delights that are iconic of Queenstown/Tanglin Halt.
Date: Every 1st Saturday
Time: TBC

Participants will learn basic painting techniques and complete a final art piece of selected food delights for the specific workshop. They will bring home works that offer opportunities for conversations with family and friends about the food heritage of Queenstown.

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