A Trip to Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium

We visited the Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium (MEMA) at Resorts World Sentosa a couple of weeks back.

Technically, the Aquarium part isn’t ready yet till 2012, so there’s only the museum, but at admission of $5 for adults and $2 for children 4 and above, one doesn’t have too much to complain about. Even if you add in Sentosa island admission cost), it still beats the more expensive admission price of the Art and Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

MEMA’s focus is on the history of ancient maritime trade, and the current exhibition is on the journey of Admiral Zheng He and life and trade on the Maritime Silk Route.

Before going in to the Souk Gallery, at the entrance, you can catch a preview video introducing Admiral Zheng He and his epic voyage from China to the western oceans on a life-size replica of the bow of his ship, Bao Chuan (treasure ship).

It’s a little overwhelming at first for the little ones (a moving, roaring lion head with eyes that flash bright red), but I kinda like the effects. DD liked it enough to want to go back and catch a second viewing.

Behind the scenes, literally (!) is a cross-section display of the goods that Zheng He carried and brought back to display to the Chinese emperor – he actually could fit giraffes and rhinos in his ship. (Those poor animals, I wonder how they ever survived the journey).

Children can collect a little booklet passport with pages to collect stamps for each port of call on the Maritime Silk Route – Quanzhou, China; Qui Nhon, Vietnam; Palembang, Indonesia; Malacca, Malaysia; Galle, Sri Lanka; Calicut, India; Muscat, Oman and Malindi, Kenya.

There are also full-colour activity sheets printed on sturdy cardstock that your child can fill out details in as they hunt down the answers around the exhibits.

Don’t forget to stop by the activity stations and make your own paper model of a Chinese junk and wayang kulit puppet to bring home.

Interactive exhibits also encourage one to stop and learn about Chinese ship building technology and math principles, explore traditional Indonesian dancing and get a picture of yourself in traditional gear, and role play the life and challenges of a port trader. According to the game’s scoring, I’m only an average trader…so sigh, I gotta keep my day job. 😉

What I appreciate about MEMA is the natural daylight. You know how museums are always kind of dark and enclosed, with focused spotlights on the exhibits in recessed spaces? This one is all glass and steel structure, and the natural daylight pours in through the ceiling and clear walls, making it feel very bright and airy.

MEMA also has a typhoon theatre. It’s a 150-seat 360-degree multimedia theatre, where you board a sailing ship and follow the story of a father and son who set sail to carry a gift from the Chinese Emperor to Arabian royalty. The ill-fated ship meets a treacherous end in a vicious typhoon. Sad story.  😦

The theatre basically simulates what a typhoon might feel like through movements of the platform, changes in the room temperature, water sprays and scene changes. It’s an interesting experience albeit a tad frightening for our youngest one who clung to me tighter than a baby koala throughout the whole experience. The admission for this is a separate cost of $6 per adult and $4 per child aged 4 and above.

I wonder if they will increase prices after the Aquarium is open. I hope not.
And if they will change their exhibit from time to time. Although that may not happen anytime soon.

Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway Sentosa Island Singapore 098269

Museum 10am – 9pm daily, Typhoon Theatre 10am – 8pm daily

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