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Antique portable music player, tin wind-up robot replica on show at travelling museum exhibition

SINGAPORE – Before digital music streaming services, there were MP3 players, and even before that, portable music was enjoyed via the radio-phonograph, a hit here in the 1960s and 1970s.

One such device by Japanese brand National is now on display at a travelling exhibition that marks the 25th anniversary of the Museum Roundtable, a collective of museums established by the National Heritage Board (NHB) in 1996.

The exhibition, titled Museum Roundtable 25: Celebrating The Silver Jubilee Of The Museums In Singapore, is presented by the NHB in partnership with 26 of the roundtable’s 62 public and private museums, galleries and heritage institutions.

It was launched at Raffles City Shopping Centre on Thursday (Dec 2) and will run until Dec 15 before moving to other venues.

NHB chief executive Chang Hwee Nee said: “The travelling exhibition provides a glimpse of the richness, depth and breadth of what our museums and galleries have to offer.

“It is a fitting way to celebrate the Museum Roundtable’s silver jubilee, and to recognise its vital role in developing a vibrant museum and heritage landscape in Singapore.”

Visitors can look forward to coupons for special discounts and free gifts at participating roundtable museums in Singapore.

On each day of the weekend, these coupons will be distributed using a giant gumball machine, while stocks last.

Apart from the radio-phonograph, a tin replica from the Mint Museum of Toys of a 1930s-produced wind-up robot is also on show.

The two are among 11 artefacts from roundtable members on display at the exhibition.


Some of the artefacts on display, MS 393 Robot Lilliput (left), circa 2000s, and Lyo and Merly plush toys. They were the official mascots of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games hosted by Singapore in 2010. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Also showcased are memorabilia from past Museum Roundtable programmes, such as commemorative pins from one of the group’s earliest programmes, the Battle For Singapore – an annual series of programmes remembering Singapore’s fall in World War II.

Mr Alvin Yapp, founder and curator of Peranakan house museum The Intan, said the roundtable is a critical and important platform for smaller, private museums.

“Through this community, not only are our voices heard, but we also learn and are inspired by other bigger museums, thus giving us opportunities to explore new ideas, participate in different initiatives and collaborate with other museums,” he said.

Ms Soo Hui Wah, director of strategic partnerships at the Singapore Discovery Centre, added that the roundtable has helped to promote professionalism in the museum sector by providing training and sharing platforms such as seminars and conferences, and establishing useful resources to encourage sharing of best practices.

The exhibition will be at Junction 8 from Dec 16 to 27 and Westgate from Dec 28 to Jan 10. From Jan 11 to 26, it will be at the National Museum of Singapore, its final stop.

More information is available at NHB’s website.

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