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The pop-up museums of Singapore's communities

Small vacant spaces all around Singapore will temporarily serve as galleries of community building ‘art’ by the pop-up museums of Singapore’s communities.

Photo of Arjan Tupan
19 15

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The pop-up museums of Singapore’s communities are places where initiatives and projects in the different communities are on show. Artifacts, presentations, stories (video), the works. By doing so, the pop-up museums are bringing the initiatives of one community to others.

But of course, there’s more. The pop-up museums will also be home to workshops, where people teach eachother how to start a new initiative, or certain specific skills needed.

And: there’s room for conversation and debate and getting to know each other.


Small kits can be prepared, that function as display cases. Maybe featuring items and photos that tell the story of the neighbourhoods. These museums-in-a-box can be put on counters at cafes or in stores.

Museum on a stick

A USB stick with instructions and videos for making your own pop-up museum could be made available to people who want to start their own pop-up museum of Singapore's communities. The contents will have some guidelines, initial things to show, and mainly: inspiration on how to curate a great collection.

Update: Void decks

As Maria explained, in many HDB blocks, if not all, there are void decks on the ground floor, which are empty spaces available to rent for functions. When these are not rented out, they could perfectly be venues for the pop-up museums of Singapore's communities! Seems like a natural fit!

Update: multimedia mobile exhibitions

In collaboration with Johan's MP3 tourism concept, and as per the suggestion of Katrina, the pop-up museums of Singapore's communities could be great users and creators of multimedia content (audio and video) that people can download onto their mobile phones and listen or watch when they're going around town. I see a great opportunity for collaboration, here.

The concepts of the Photo Marathon and LocalTV from Johan could be excellent partners in creating and sharing content for the pop-up museums of Singapore's communities.

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

By telling the stories of Singapore's communities, this concept aims to bring people to a closer connection to their surroundings. The idea is that if they feel more connected, they will be more inclined to keep their neighbourhoods clean. Or clean them up. Also, by bringing people together in the museums, and organising workshops where people share how they made a difference, this concept aims to persuade people to take action.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

The scaling of this concept lies in the fact that it is aimed at people who want to act, and do something themselves. Enabling people to start a pop-up museum of Singapore's community, will help scale this into a big movement. Especially through providing the museums-on-a-stick or museums-in-a-box.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

I would start small, and try to find 2 or 3 void decks in different areas of Singapore that we could start with. It will take some negotiation with the building management, perhaps, but I think we can make that work. Probably, initially there will be a screen (interactive?) that shows videos, photos and stories of a specific neighbourhood. By curating a good collection of these, in collaboration with other initiatives like the RunThruSingapore project and the Singapore Memory project, it seems relatively easy to create an initial collection. These are also projects that seem to have people behind them that can facilitate a workshop. Maybe there's a local artist that has some work that can be on display. Or photos from students or just people, to understand how they see the city. Obviously, we'll also organise a few workshops and invite local press to come and see what's going on. Maybe a local radio-station can do a broadcast from the site.


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Arjan, nice one -- another one of your concepts made it to the NEA Challenge Shortlist. We liked the way your concept provided an easy way to take in art and celebrate community.

As we move into Refinement, think about the systems that might surround a Pop-Up museum. Who would get the word out, and how would it be distributed? How might the space be secured? Who would keep the momentum going? For more tips on how to iterate and prototype your idea during the Refinement phase, read here and check this Lowdown:

Photo of carl brinker

Tapping into active community members to help spread the word within their community is a cost-efficient means of spreading the cause and keeping it alive past 1 single event. What incentive can be given to these early adopters encouraging them to bring their friends to events and help spread the word? Not living in Singapore, I struggle with this answer, but perhaps some form of "social cash" (recognition) at the events.

In addition, if the events are taking place in areas where community members pass on a regular basis, would it be possible to leave something from the pop up events? This way these events would literally leave a small mark on the community that continuously invites curious passer-bys to stop and maybe seek out more information. If space is at a premium and smart phones are prominent in the area, this could literally be a bar code w/ a curious sign where a video or pic from the event is brought up when the bar code is scanned. This will allow for a continuing stream so the community is creating a story thread through these events.

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