A Peek Into the Past – Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

April 28, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Last week, Itchyfingers were among some of those who were invited to a special preview of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum prior to its official opening today, 28 April, in appreciation of our little contribution. The museum has come a long way – possibly dating back to when Singapore was founded. It was last known as the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (RMBR), which only had a small gallery nestled in one of the obscure Science Block at the University, and was greatly in need of an overhaul and expansion. So it was indeed a good news to finally have a brand new building to house a proper viewing gallery, as well as facilities for its scientists and researchers.

Once you entered the new building at the National University of Singapore, visitors were welcomed by a huge wall mural made from photo collage of the specimens on exhibit…

mural
Part of the mural. Very nice, colourful and vibrant – injecting some life into the otherwise ‘dead’ exhibits…

The highlights of the museum are three much talked-about diplodocid sauropod skeletons, nicknamed “Prince”, “Apollonia” and “Twinky”. Each of them is about 80% complete, making them a rarity in dinosaur discoveries. They were the first thing you would see once you entered the gallery behind a glass wall. But you would have to maneuver your way through the plants section before you could come close to them.

rafflesia
A model of the Rafflesia flower, something Itchyfingers are dying to see in the wild…The unisexual flower may reach over a meter in diameter and weigh over 10kg! 

titan-arum
Another smelly flower that we want to see too! This is a model of the Titan Arum, the “largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, reaching over 3meters in height. The inflorescence blooms at night, releasing an odour of rotting meat that attracts carrion-eating beetles and flies to pollinate it”. Few years back, our Botanical Garden had one, but it kinda withered prematurely, hence we didn’t have the chance to experience the rotting smell…

plants
Some well-preserved Herbarium sheets

black-poplar-mushroom
Some interesting fungi on display. These are Black Poplar Mushroom

From the ground floor main gallery, we could see the dinosaur skeletons, which are considered a rarity for sauropod dinosaurs fossils as two of them come with skulls. These three skeletons were found between 2007 and 2010 in a quarry in a small town of Ten Sleep in the United States and are believed to be part of a herd or even a family. According to reports, the “American sellers had asked for $8 million but the Museum would not say what the final deal was”.

dinos
These dinosaurs, acquired through donated funds, are to be the main attraction of the main gallery – to showcase the diversity and history of life on Earth

dinos2
The museum believes that, “as one of the largest animals ever to live on the planet, they are an excellent showpiece to demonstrate extinction events and how life has evolved.”

Not a great fan of dinosaurs, I wasn’t really excited to see the trios though… :p Despite having a new building, somehow, the space available for displaying the trio still feels very small and cramp. I was expecting to be able to really stand further to look at the sheer size of them. To make up for the lack of space, visitors can still view them from the second floor though. There is a light show at regular intervals but personally I thought it was a bit meaningless and doesn’t add any value to the exhibit. :p

dodo
Model of the Dodo – sadly hunted to extinction

display
What attracted Tisu Boy’s attention? I love this display!

turtle-anatomy
Oh my goodness!!! A cut up Reeve’s Turtle!

frog
This Bornean Frogs looks like it’s dancing….Are those eggs on the tummy?

nesting-birds
Unidentified nestling birds…

mud-lobster
Ahhhh…finally see a real Mud Lobster….albeit a dead one…Well…it was once alive! :O

basket-star
Beautiful Basket Star….This specimen has a “100” icon next to the name. Does that mean it is 100 or more years old? Can’t find the legend to the icon…

venus's-flower-basket
Beautiful Venus’s Flower Basket

I like the way they displayed these specimens in nice glass jars and arranged neatly on the shelf. But the names of the specimen were put too far at the extreme left, so whenever you need to find out the name, you have to walk all the way to the left. Why don’t they just label it below? It’s easier to change single labels if they want to change the exhibits, rather than to change the whole panel right? I also don’t really like the tv screen in the middle. Don’t think it is interactive cos no one seems to be touching it…

bobtail-squid
The squids and octopuses specimens were a letdown after looking at the beautiful set ups earlier. This Bobtail Squid could have been made more attractive if only they could spread out the tentacles and make it look as it was floating in the jar, like the frog above…

shells
So nice. Rare-spined Murex (26), Branched Murex (27) and Venus Comb Murex (28)

heart-cockle
Heart Cockles. I have seen photos of them that are brighter in colour…

whip-spider
Whip Spider

horseshoe-crabs
Horsehoe Crabs are actually related to spiders and scorpions, that’s why they are put together

butterflies
Moths and butterflies

lantern-bug
Lantern Bug! Tisu Boy love them!

lantern-bug2
Gorgeous!

green-flying-stick-necroscia-inflata
I prefer the stick insect – so pretty like wearing a dress!

sticks
From left: Cantor’s Stick Insects – bigger female and smaller male (8) and their eggs (9). Right: Malayan Jungle Nymph (10) – fatter green female and male with wings opened; and their bigger eggs

dead-leaf-mantis
Dead Leaf Mantis! So evil-looking yet so intriguing! 😀

cicada
Many kinds of cicadas too!

crustaceans
For prawn lovers…The huge one is the Tiger Prawn, widely reared for food

red-frog-crab
Red Frog Crab. Funny looking. The live one is really red in colour!

urchin
Check out the many sea urchin skeletons….look like a pin cushion….

grouper
How can I missed this Orange-spotted Grouper! Such a big fish! But luckily I saw it at an earlier exhibition some time ago

turtles
Turtles! 

impressed-tortoise
This small one is called Impressed Tortoise! Impressive or not? 😀

black-marsh-turtle
Black Marsh Turtle

reptile
An overview of the reptilian section

reptiles1
Reptiles….The snakes in jars look like those medicinal snake wine from some Asian countries…hahaha

croc
Croc hatchling…

lizard-embryo
Lizard embryo…wonder which species….

fossil
Cast of Archaeopteryx “Berlin Specimen”. Discovered around 1875, it was the second one found and first with a complete head

birds
The birds specimen were quite a disappointment as most of them were in the “satay stick” form and not preserved in standing or flying position

orang
A sad-looking Orangutan…

orangs
A family of Orangutans with a skeleton reflection on the glass

skeleton
Skeletons of a human and a Bornean Orangutan

sun-bear
Some of the mammal specimens like the Sun Bear family was quite nicely presented, showing the way they live

wild-boars
And showed the colour and pattern variation between the young and adult, like this Wild Boar family

tapir
And this Malayan Tapir family

malayan-tapir
Skull of the tapir

koala
The marsupial that Australia loaned to the Singapore Zoo – Koala

dolphin
The Humpbacked Dolphin skull looked so funny

The Heritage Gallery is located at the upper floor with five exhibit zones that pay homage to the museum heritage. The gallery presents an account of the museum’s development and traces the relationship between Singapore’s development and natural history.

toger
Close up of a tiger skin

leatherback
Leatherback Turtle

The Heritage Gallery’s layout is intentionally styled like an old-school museum with specimens on display in dark wooden cabinets.

bear
Don’t be scared by some of them….wahahah

You can check out the cabinets and drawers for more exhibits and information

bird-of-paradise
Nice display of the Bird-of-Paradise and the Babirusa with illustrations

cream-squirrel
Tisu Boy’s contribution – a printed copy of his painting of this Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel sits in one of the cabinets

Itchyfingers spent less than 2 hours in the museum, a rather short time for our liking cos our free and easy tour started about 3.50 pm. Our tummies were beginning to make noise so we had to cut short our visit. Was a little disappointed that they didn’t put up more specimens for exhibit. Hopefully there will either be rotating exhibits or new ones will be added later, or even better still, new gallery space will be created in the 7-storey building. There are many more interesting specimens not featured here and if you are really interested in plants, animals and natural history, a visit to the new the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is definitely highly recommended! Check their website for ticketing details, as you can’t just pop by any time you wish and get tickets on the spot! A little inconvenient, but let’s see if they will adjust this later on.

whale
Nice way of presenting the founding benefactors

Also see related posts:
> The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research
> Hunters & Collectors – The Origins of the SouthEast Asian Collection

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