Retrotech: Return to the analog age at Singapore National Museum

·2-min read

Transport back to a time when technology was foreign and up and coming in a new nostalgic exhibit by the National Museum of Singapore.

The Stamford Road museum is displaying its treasure trove of some of the most iconic technology from the ‘70s up to the noughties at Off / On: Everyday Technology that Changed Our Lives. It runs now through Oct. 30.

“Through the Off / On showcase, we invite visitors to reconnect with these technologies, while inspiring conversations and curiosity among the younger generations unfamiliar with them. As we are more ‘switched on’ now than ever before, the indispensable role of technology continues to shape and change the way we live, work and play, and we hope visitors will share their unique stories and experiences with us,” museum senior curator Priscilla Chua said in a news release.

Defunct pay phones, bulky laptops and vintage cassette tape players are just some of what is displayed. And unlike most exhibits, this showcase encourages visitors to touch and play with the uncased props. Don’t worry, they are replicas – the real ones are safely enclosed in glass cases.

Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

The displays don’t just show what older generations used in typical museum fashion, you can also bask in nostalgia while standing in stage sets of common spaces like a hair salon, coffee shop, and office space that looks to be from the late ‘90s.

Before there were smart devices, older generations had to live with pagers, typewriters and chunky computers. Type on the many typewriters or view early IBM and Apple computers that appear as shrines in one room.

In another, send personalized messages in handphone and pager format that will be displayed on a blown-up replica of the gadgets. In still another, a family portrait photo studio is set up with a vintage film camera taking black and white photos which are then “developed” in the adjacent dark room.

Shelves of old televisions in another space run local television programs, commercials and even recreated Teletext messages.

Most rooms allow visitors to access interactive games by scanning the QR codes on their website. Games include speed typing and decoding numerical pager messages.

Got a nostalgic story or photos of personal old school memorabilia? Send them in to the museum’s open call to help them broaden their scope of collection.

Admission is free for Singaporeans and children under 6.

More photos:

Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Museum of Singapore
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

FIND IT
Off / On: Everyday Technology that Changed Our Lives, 1970s–2000s
10 June to 30 October 2022
Open 10am to 7pm daily, last admission 6:30pm
National Museum of Singapore, Exhibition Gallery, Basement Level
93 Stamford Road, Singapore

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