The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) held it’s last Open House for 2011 on Sunday 4 December 2011. Ice balls, “kuti kuti” (tokens) and other games of the 70s reminded us how we were delighted and entertained before the age of digital gadgets. For those of you young-lings who were born after the 90s, these were traditional home-made toys and entertainment — simple pleasures of life.

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) Open House 4 Dec 11 Ice balls

You could listen to the familiar storytelling voice from past Rediffusion radio broadcasts. Chinese and Indian fortune tellers, a barber and a cobbler were providing their services along footpaths, where they used to trade in the past.

The activities were free or kept to traditional prices!

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) Open House 4 Dec 11 Vanishing trades at traditional prices
This was a real price list at the Singapore Art Museum, not a retro poster.

You could wear “chak kiak” (red wooden clogs) to pose for photos by a “kampung” (old village) scene, inspired by Amanda Heng’s Singirl installation art series.

Singapore Art Museum (SAM) Open House 4 Dec 11 Amanda Heng Singirl

There were family craft activities of the same theme, such as building your own “kampung” house. At Amanda Heng’s other art exhibits, you could also sit around together to snap off the roots of “towgay” (bean sprouts), a common family activity of the old days. The household items which Amanda Heng’s mother could not bear to throw away are now part of her art, giving the full flavour of her family history.

Like other SAM Open House Days, you could also roam around other art exhibitions for free.

History and art need not be boring. Look out for coming SAM Open House days in 2012. Enjoy our SAM Open House December 2011 Open House photo album and APB Signature Art Prize finalists exhibition photo album.

Co-written with Suzzana.