Take a virtual tour of the indoor exhibit here:
Why this is a must visit:
The Chinese have a saying “飲水思源” which literally means “When you drink of the water, remember its source”.
It is very easy, living in a modern, affluent metropolis like Singapore, to forget that merely a generation ago, we were invaded and colonised. Worse, this tiny island state of ours swiftly fell to the Japanese force that arrived on bicycles, confounding the mighty British empire who were too reliant on their weaponry (or were still recovering from the revelry of Valentine’s Day a day before). All these while the rest of Singapore were preparing to usher in the first day of Chinese New Year 75 years ago. Instead the Japanese conquered our land and with them came 3.5 years of unspeakable hardship and torture.
The Surviving the Japanese Occupation Gallery consists of a few sections filled with historical artifacts, photos, stories, videos and re-enactment of what happened during the Japanese occupation. Among the highlights is the Surrender Chamber where the British surrendered to the Japanese.
Tips To Enhance Your Visit:
Q1. Is it suitable for kids?
The exhibit does not have any gory photos and is very informative and educational in nature. Having said that, it might be more suitable for Upper Primary and Secondary school kids as they are reading History / Social Studies and this will make the lessons come alive. Lower primary school-going kids may need some help and explanation from parents to fully appreciate the exhibition.
There is an outdoor garden called the Syonan Garden that may be suitable for children of all ages. The garden features plants and crops grown primarily as food source during the Japanese occupation.
Q2. Is it an indoor exhibit? Does it have any outdoor exhibits?
At the moment, most of the exhibits are housed indoor in fully air-conditioned rooms. There is also a small outdoor Synonan garden where visitors are able to find a variety of food crops that were widely grown in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation. Crops such as tapioca, sweet potato, yam, banana, and coconut were planted by many people in order to survive. Visitors can learn about the creative and ingenious ways in which people used these crops to deal with scarcity during this period.
Q3. How long does it take to view the exhibits?
A quick visit with selected stops may take you about an hour. If you choose to experience the exhibition fully, it may take about 3 hours or more.
Q4. Are there any eateries inside?
Currently there are no eateries inside. The nearest malls are Rail Mall and Hillview 2 Shopping Mall. You may wish to have a snack there should you envisage a long visit.
Q5. Are there any dress code to abide by?
No but given that this is an exhibition about the atrocities of war, there is a certain expected decorum when visiting the place. Visitors are expected to show respect by not running around, laughing or chatting loudly or eating and drinking in the exhibition areas.
Q6. Are photography and videography allowed?
Yes but out of respect for the other visitors, I would advise that no flash photography.
Q7. Where do I start?
To appreciate the exhibition chronologically, start from the ‘Fall of Singapore’ section (as you face the welcome counter, turn left). After that proceed on to the Legacies of War. Don’t forget to visit the Syonan Garden outside!
Q8. Is this place disabled-friendly.
The reopened Syonan Gallery is a stark reminder of the dark Japanese Occupation period of our country. But more then that, it reminds us of that the freedom we enjoy today came at a price of our ancestors and pioneers who sacrificed their lives. It serves also to remind us to cherish and protect our unique multiracial way of life and a glimpse of what may happen should we take our sovereignty for granted.
Below are some general information about the gallery and its exhibits:
Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies is a permanent World War Two exhibition presented by the National Archives of Singapore at the historic Former Ford Factory. This was the place where the British forces surrendered unconditionally to the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942. Through oral history accounts, archival records and published materials, the exhibition highlights the diverse experiences of people in Singapore during this crucial time in our history. Syonan Gallery presents the events and memories surrounding the British surrender, the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, and the legacies of the war.
There are 4 exhibition zones inside the Syonan Gallery:
This section tells the history of the Ford Factory and sets the scene in prewar Singapore. Learn how the building evolved through the years, from its start as Ford Motor Company’s first motorcar assembly plant in Southeast Asia in 1941 to being gazetted as a national monument in 2006.
2. Fall of Singapore
On 15 February 1942, the British forces surrendered to the Japanese in the boardroom of Ford Motor Factory. Described by Winston Churchill as the ‘worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history’, this section highlights the events leading up to that fateful moment.
3. Becoming Syonan
After the British surrender, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, or ‘Light of the South’. The Japanese Occupation was a period of suffering and unfulfilled promises. Through the personal items and oral history recollections on display, find out about the diverse wartime experiences and the different ways people responded to these challenges.
4. Legacies of War
On 5 September 1945, the British returned to Singapore, to relief and rejoicing amongst the locals. However, the wartime experience and the British Military Administration’s shortcomings left the locals with a less than rosy view of the British.
The legacies of the war manifested on various levels: the British grand plans for decolonisation; the social challenges of postwar reconstruction; the people’s political awakening. The exhibition ends on a contemplative note on how we remember the war and its enduring legacies.
Join the guided doccent-led tours beginning 1 March 2017 onwards:
Monday to Friday: 11am & 2.30pm
Saturday: 11am, 2.30pm & 3.30pm
Sunday: 2.30pm & 3.30pm
Take a Virtual Tour of the Indoor Exhibition here:
Former Ford Factory
351 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Monday to Saturday: 9.00am – 5.30pm; Sunday: 12 noon to 5.30pm
Free admission for all children under 6. Singaporeans and permanent residents (Bring along your proof of identity, Singapore student pass holders (Bring along your proof of identity), Museum Roundtable members (Bring along your proof of identity).