Inspiring Stories Promote Discovery Of Singapore's History And Heritage at the National Library's Stories Behind Singapore Streets Exhibition

Release Date : 11 Jan 2012

Singapore, 11 January 2012 – The National Library today launched “Stories Behind Singapore Streets”, an exhibition showcasing the origins of local street names and Singapore's street naming conventions. Guest-of-Honour, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Transport, graced the launch event at the National Library Building.

Behind the eponymous street names are illuminating stories about the people, their lives and achievements, and the roles they played in making Singapore what it is today. The exhibition aims to create a greater awareness of Singapore's early history, journey through nation building and unique multicultural heritage through the stories behind the street names. It traces the history of Singapore through the street naming conventions from the pre-colonial era to modern day Singapore.

More than 100 street names are featured in the exhibition, such as the early names of Singapore in the 14th and 15th century, pre-Raffles Singapore, the Raffles Town Plan and the post-colonial period after Singapore's independence in 1965. The different categories of street names, such as descriptive street names, street names dedicated to prominent people, streets named after local personalities and street names reflecting the imprint of British colonialism, are featured. For instance, the Raffles Town Plan, one of the key exhibits, depicts the urban plan of Singapore according to Sir Stamford Raffles' instructions.

The exhibition displays maps, photographs and old street signs from the National Library's donor collections and materials from supporting partners. Highlights include the National Library's legal documents and maps from the Koh Seow Chuan collection, PictureSG's photographs of street scenes of early Singapore from the Lee Kip Lin collection, and a video on ten unusual street names in Singapore such as Kay Poh Road, Rotan Lane and One Tree Hill.

To reach out to more Singaporeans, three roving exhibitions will be held at the Woodlands Regional Library, Marine Parade Public Library and Jurong West Public Library, from 30 June to 30 September 2012. In addition, the National Library will also organise a talk on street names, learning journeys, a guided tour of the exhibition and the Curator's Walk which covers Toponymics, the study of street and place names, in January and February 2012. Refer to Annex A for the list of programmes.

“I hope that Singaporeans will enjoy learning about history and heritage through the evolution of our street names. We are also conducting guided tours of the exhibition for students and community groups, and learning journeys to areas such as Chinatown and the Civic District over the next few months,” said Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board.

The exhibition was held with the valuable support of partners including the National University of Singapore, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Land Transport Authority, National Heritage Board, National Archives Singapore and National Museum Singapore.

Admission to the “Stories Behind Singapore Streets” exhibition is free. The exhibition is located at the Promenade, levels 7 and 8 of the National Library Building and will run for six months from 11 January to 29 June 2012, from 10am to 9pm daily, except on public holidays.

Annex A

“Stories Behind Singapore Streets” Exhibitions and Programmes

1. Exhibitions

Main Exhibition

Date : 12 January – 29 June 2012

Time : 10.00 am – 9.00 pm daily (except public holidays)

Venue: Promenades Level 7 & 8, National Library Building

Roving Exhibitions

Date : 30 June – 30 July 2012

Time : 10.00 am – 9.00 pm daily (except public holidays)

Venue: Level 1, Woodlands Regional Library

Date : 31 July – 30 August 2012

Time : 10.00 am – 9.00 pm daily (except public holidays)

Venue: Level 1, Marine Parade Public Library

Date : 31 August – 30 September 2012

Time : 10.00 am – 9.00 pm daily (except public holidays)

Venue: Level 1, Jurong West Public Library

2. Programmes

Talk on “Singapore Street Names in a Changing Landscape: Reviving History, Recalling Memories and Unfolding Experiences”

Date  : 13 January 2012

Time  : 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm

Venue  : Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Speaker : Assoc Prof Victor Savage, National University of Singapore

Synopsis : The story of Singapore, as it nears the end of 200 years after Sir Stamford Raffles, can be unveiled in many ways – be it artefacts, pictorial representations, personal memoirs or cultural landscapes. This talk describes one aspect of Singapore's cultural landscape: its street names and how they reflect Singapore's changing landscapes and socio-cultural relationships. The study of street and place names, also known as Toponymics, has become increasingly popular with public-spirited Singaporeans. This pursuit of historic and cultural information demonstrates Singapore as a maturing state and that her citizens are uncovering historical and cultural developments of their city-state.

Learning Journey to Chinatown (Registration is full)

Date  : 14 January 2011

Time  : 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm

Venue  : Promenade, Level 7 (meeting point)

Guide  : Mr Pugalenthi

Synopsis : Join us on this educational tour as we walk through Chinatown and find out who and what inspired the street names in the vicinity.  We will visit places including China Street, Ann Siang Road and look at the diversity of the street names in the vicinity. Last but not least, we will look at all the adjacent roads connected to South Bridge Road and find out how much the streets have changed. Other learning journeys to areas such as the Civic District will also be organised in the next few months.

Guided Tour of “Stories Behind Singapore Streets” Exhibition

Date  : 21 January 2012

Time  : 2.00 pm – 2.45 pm

Venue  : Promenade, Level 7, National Library Building

Synopsis : Visitors will receive an activity book specially designed to enhance the visitors' learning through word games, crossword puzzles and quizzes, as well as an exhibition guide that documents the exhibition content and provides recommended resources for further learning.

“Stories Behind Singapore Streets” Curator's Walk

Date  : 18 February 2012,

Time  : 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm,

Venue  : Promenade, Level 7, National Library Building

Synopsis : During the Curator's Walk, the Curator will try to explain the breadth and depth of Toponymics, the importance of primary research, the gaps in records, how information can be lost and how new information may emerge over time, and the importance of continuous work. Participants are encouraged to visit the exhibition before the Walk, so the Curator can devote more time to answering questions relating to the exhibition's content.