When I told a friend I was headed to the Singapore Maritime Gallery, she mistook it for the Maritime Museum at the integrated resort. Nope, it's completely different. The SMG is located near the new Cruise Centre, which is at the Marina South Pier. So, basically, it's in the vicinity of Marina Barrage.
Husband and I had scouted out the place months ago, on one of our evening drives after the kids sleep (our kids sleep at 8pm). We noted that the Gallery looked impressive (from the outside--it was closed at night) and that there was a nice playground on the top floor. In other words: it'd be perfect for a morning outing. We planned to visit the Gallery with the kids, then finish off at the playground. After doing a bit more research, we headed off this weekend, and it was great!
Here's a tip: Go early. The gallery opens at 9am. We go there at 9.15am, and the lady at the counter let our kids try this free game-machine thing at the entrance. Even though none of our kids won the game, she decided to open up the machine and give them each a prize--it turned out to be a multiple USB port! So we got three!!
Another tip: Once inside, head straight for the exhibit at the end: the ship bridge simulator. My boys loved this, and because we were early, we stayed there for a good half hour! At this simulator, you get to choose to be the captain of a speedboat, cruise ship or container ship. You can choose day or night, different weather conditions, and different tasks, like berthing the boat or being out in open seas. The screens surround you, making you feel quite dizzy as you play out the scenario. And the "captain" of the ship sits in front of a dashboard of controls, with not just a steering wheel, but also other "realistic" instruments and tools to enable him to steer the ship. My boys absolutely loved this! See videos of the simulator here and here.
The rest of the exhibitis were also great--I enjoyed the incorporation of multimedia in many of the exhibits and I was especially impressed by the video on how oil rigs are assembled. Did you know Singapore is the largest producer and assembler of oil rigs in the world?
Of course, a parent's dream come true: the Gallery had a special kids' play area where there were colouring sheets, origami activities, and even two computer games--a "dress up" activity and a picture activity. AND, there was a small area where kids could "chase" fishies projected on the floor, that would magically move around based on your movements--one of those video projection things. PLUS, a Lego board on the wall for kids to create their own Lego mosaic creations!
We spent about 30 minutes at the Ship Bridge Simulator, 25 minutes looking at the other exhibits and then another 30 minutes at the kids' play area. And we hadn't even reached the playground yet! When we did get to the playground, I noted that at around 10.30 or so, the reception entrance area of the gallery was PACKED with a tour group, so it DOES pay to get there early!
All in all, it was a great trip. The kids spotted the Admiral Cheng Ho Cruise Ship docking, and we have plans to take that cruise soon!
Yahoo for the Singapore Maritime Gallery, and oh, did I mention that it is FREE? =)