The National Museum of Singapore is the nation’s oldest museum, and its exhibits are among the most progressive. Its galleries adopt cutting-edge and multi-perspective ways of representing history and culture, to redefine the conventional museum experience.
The museum’s Glass Rotunda currently hosts an immersive digital art installation, titled “Story of the Forest”. It is inspired by the National Museum of Singapore’s prized collection, the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings. This prized collection is brought to life through a spectacular interactive digital presentation in which visitors are transported to the natural ecology of 19th century Malaya, viewed through the eyes of artists of that time and re-imagined today through digital art and technology.
In 2014 the museum closed off the Glass Rotunda, to explore new and innovative ways of showcasing the country’s social history and cultural history with industry partners. This resulted in the museum’s collaboration with the Japanese digital art collective teamLab, while Singapore-based Broadcast Professional Pte Ltd was chosen for the system integration, content delivery and project management, with an emphasis on ensuring an unforgettable immersive experience for visitors.
The Glass Rotunda’s 15 meter high drum ceiling and 170 meter passageway have been converted into an immersive large-scale digital art installation, providing a truly unique 360-degree audio and video experience for visitors to be continuously absorbed. Visitors to the Glass Rotunda walk across a sky bridge to be greeted by the top end of the dome and enter the 170m-spiral passageway that leads them to the Lower Rotunda. The top of the structure projects the infinitely expanding universe, where animated flowers of the region bloom and change over time as guests walk through it. The dome features 17 projectors in the 15 meter high by 12 meter wide space.
The spiral passageway brings visitors through an interactive forest, inhabited by the animals found in Singapore and the region. As visitors walk down the passageway the scene changes from morning to noon and then to night, also reflecting the different local climates. Upon entering the Lower Rotunda, the visitors come back into the night scene.
Key to the experience is the interactivity that is subtly interspersed with the images projected. The main interaction starts once visitors enter the spiral passageway from the sky bridge. Sensors that trigger the images to change have been placed strategically within the passageway. However, interactivity is not limited to the sensors. Visitors can also download a custom designed app to their smart devices. An innovative feature that Broadcast Professional and teamLab have created in the app allows visitors to point their smart device cameras at the projected images to track any selected character and get further information about them.
Alongside the projectors, the spiral passageway also features Community loudspeakers, which create the appropriate audio soundscape that complements the images projected. Audio has also been used to create additional interactivity. Broadcast Professional has integrated a feature whereby a high frequency signal can be captured by a visitor’s smartphone microphone, enabling them to pinpoint their location within the various zones of the 170m wide projection.
“A total of 42 projectors have been installed along the spiral passageway with Community DS5 loudspeakers playing a critical role in the experience,” said John Paul Tan, Broadcast Professional’s sales manager. “The Community D SERIES surface mount loudspeakers are low profile, aesthetically modern and discreet, with dynamic sound quality and excellent intelligibility. With space being a premium, these loudspeakers were the ideal solution for this installation as they fit seamlessly into the environment and provide outstanding sound quality.”
“This has been a very interesting project for us. It was a truly collaborative effort, working with the Museum and teamLab to create this very large interactive digital canvas. The content and the technology had to work hand-in-hand to provide a memorable visitor experience and we are pleased to have been involved in this one-of-a-kind project,” concluded John Paul Tan.