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In Singapore, a house for the future of art

  • The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands is a crucible for works at the intersection of art, technology, and culture
  • Opening October 26, the Disney: Magic of Animation exhibition will give visitors an inside look into over 90 years of artistic and technological innovation

A view of the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay
A view of the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay (Photo Courtesy: Marina Bay Sands, Singapore)

Located at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, the ArtScience Museum is a striking lotus-like building which has become an integral part of the city’s skyline. Founded in 2011, it is often referred to as “the welcoming hand of Singapore". The museum is a one-of-a-kind space showcasing works that are a union of art, science, technology and culture.

The museum building, designed by Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie, comprises 10 “fingers", with the tallest rising 60m above the ground. Each “finger" is a separate gallery space, while the “fingertips" let natural sunlight into the exhibition areas. The building is situated by the water, amidst greenery, and has a picturesque lily pond at its entrance.

The architectural masterwork also incorporates rooftop rainwater harvesting. The 21 galleries on three floors, across a space of 6,000 sq. m, host popular global exhibits as well as permanent displays. Here’s a walk through the current exhibits at this one-of-a-kind institution.

Future World: Where Art Meets Science (permanent exhibit)

This dynamic, adaptable, digital show was conceived in association with teamLab, a multi-award-winning art collective of interdisciplinary ultra-technologists from Japan. The exhibit takes audiences on an illusory, media-driven journey through 17 interactive art installations that are divided into four narratives: City in a Garden, Sanctuary, Park and Space.

The ‘Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town’ exhibit
The ‘Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town’ exhibit (Photo Courtesy Marina Bay Sands, Singapore)

Launched with a new look on 5 September, the City in a Garden installation immerses visitors in a digital world of nature. It features brand new artwork—Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town—and a dramatic new presentation of one of teamLab’s best-known artworks, Sketch Aquarium. In the latter, guests begin by walking through a field of flowers and continue by interacting with a lush meadow, before arriving at the shore to explore aquatic life. Inverted Globe, Giant Connecting Block Town is a recreation of a city scene, illustrating how people can live in harmony with nature.

The Sanctuary installation is a haven that allows for reflection and meditation, away from the bustling activities of City in a Garden, and before setting off for the boisterous fun of Park. The four artworks in Park—Sketch Town, Story Of The Time When Gods Were Everywhere, Light Ball Orchestra and Create! Hopscotch for Geniuses represent manifestations of recreation activities. The exhibition ends by embarking outward and upward into the universe, with the Space installation. Using teamLab’s interactive 4D vision technology, this artwork allows users to walk through over 170,000 LED lights, creating the illusion of stars in space.

Disney: Magic Of Animation(26 October-29 March)

This cutting-edge exhibit will offer visitors the rare opportunity to gain insight into more than 90 years of Disney’s artistry and technological innovations with its projections, audiovisual displays and exhibits. One of the highlights of the show will be the debut of original artworks from the much awaited film Frozen 2, before its release in Singapore. The exhibition will showcase a selection of over 500 art pieces, including original drawings, paintings, sketches and concept art, curated by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library.

The exhibition begins with the “Creating Believable Characters: Bringing Drawings To Life" gallery, which reveals how early Disney animators pioneered new animation techniques. The second chapter, “The Magic Begins: Continual Research And Development", tells the behind-the-scenes story of Disney-animated movies from the 1930s-40s through a series of concept artworks, sketches and displays of technological equipment. The third gallery, “Producers Of Magic: Creating Diversity In Expression And A Wider World", celebrates the talented Disney animators.

The fourth chapter, “Towards New Dimensions: Digital Advances, Musical Seas", showcases artworks from legendary Disney cartoon films from the 1990s, such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tarzan, and their memorable soundtracks. The final gallery of the exhibition, “Bringing People Together: Social Diversity, Messages For Our Global Future", displays recent Disney-animated movies which touch upon contemporary issues through the medium of film. This chapter shows art pieces from films with impactful messages, like the significance of family bonds, cultural diversity and preservation of nature, such as Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen,Big Hero 6 and Moana.

Pallavi Mehra is a Mumbai-based travel and lifestyle journalist.

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