The Changi Museum Hot
The Changi Museum is dedicated to all those who lived and died in Singaporeduring the dark years of World War II with emphasis in the Changi area documents significant events of the Japanese Occupation.
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Much more than a history lesson
The Changi Museum doesn't get lots of visitors nowadays.
As I walk down the hallways of the museum leading into the chapel, the silence and tranquillity evicts emotions in me. I feel a sense of indescribable sorrow. As a kid, I've always thought war was fun and exciting. Today as I am confronted with the pictures and memorials of the victims, I realised how foolish I was 10 years ago.
There are a total of 5 zones in the Museum for you to explore, each like chapters in a storybook, taking you on a historical trip back to the 1940s. Loaded with informative boards, murals, interactive videos and audio for you to listen, read and watch, the experience was very surreal. There is also a replica of the door of a jail cell that gave me creeps when I tried peering through its tiny slit.
In light of the Museum, it is more than a historical lesson. It allows Singaporeans to reflect on the past and realise how fortunate our current generation is. As for the Prisoners-of-War (POWs) and their families, it is a place that allows for closure of the many emotional scars inflicted by the war.
A place for real challenge
It may be a replica, but what a place!
Why do people glorify war? The question cannot be answered sanely. But, pacifist or not, everyone needs to be jolted into the horrific and inhuman reality of it. The Changi Museum and Chapel is worth at least two hours of solemn listening, looking and learning.
It contains a sobering collection of artifacts, materials and pictures of the daily lives of the Prisoners of War. It covers the atrocities of war. It shows much about life, and death, not just of the POWs but those thousands of Singaporeans who were just rounded up and executed.
The religious symbolism is strong and makes those of use of no religious belief appreciate the strength that the images and practices of faith brought to those who suffered. Of course, it did not explain or answer anything, but amidst the cruelties of war, you grasp what hope you can.
Videos, audio visuals, letters, artifacts, replicas, murals: truly sobering.
Though it's been about 7 years now since my first visit to the Changi Museum and Chapel as part of a secondary school excursion, the place has for some reason left an exceptionally lasting impression on me.
Despite the relatively simple layout of the museum, the largely preserved surroundings and subtle religious undertones of the place seemed to make the wide collection of artefacts, videos and personal letters and accounts of prisoners of war in the museum all the more compelling and sobering. Many of us were left in solemn reflection, as we pondered upon the atrocities of war, the fragility of life and how often these have been reduced to mere statistical facts in our textbooks and examinations that we have allowed ourselves to become so easily numb to.
My strongest memory of our visit there was being able to meet a former prisoner of war in person at the museum itself. I will always recall the fervour that he spoke with and the glowing resilience in his eyes despite his weathered frame, as he recounted story after story of his personal experience of the war. It was only then that I came to a new understanding of war museums and remembering the war - it is not just to be jolted into the morbid reality of the past or the negative extremes of human nature, but also to recognise and embrace the courage and determination of the human spirit.
All in all, the museum is a recommended place to visit for all who wish to be taken down a fulfilling thought-provoking and reflective journey of rediscovering the war, and a place that one must be prepared not to leave unshaken.