Lion City plays host to Chinese dynasties

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 1993, 12:00am

ANCIENT Chinese dynasties have made a come-back in modern Singapore.

Since 1989, Empress Place Museum, housed in a grand Victorian building on the banks of the Singapore river, has played host to rare cultural and historical exhibits from ancient Chinese empires - the Qing, Han and Tang - attracting thousands of visitors.

A former home of colonial administration in Singapore, the 128-year-old Empress Place Building was restored and converted into a world-class museum in April, 1989.

Within weeks of its opening, it was recognised as a centre of attraction for visitors from all over the world, taking pride of place with Singapore's other famous attractions such as the Singapore Zoological gardens and the resort island of Sentosa.

The Empress Place Museum had attracted nearly well over a million people since opening. They can view Chinese art treasures on display for the first time outside China.

This is part of a five-year agreement between the governments of China and Singapore to use the attraction as a stage for these unique exhibits.

It opened with a year-long exhibition of ''Imperial Life in the Qing Dynasty'' followed by an 18-month display of the ''Treasures of Han''.

Since November last year, ''The Silk Road - Treasures of Tang'' exhibition has filled the vast galleries of this neo-classical building.

The exhibition takes visitors on a journey back in time, along the most famous and magnificent of all ancient trade routes.

This chapter of ancient Chinese history is brought to life through a selection of over 200 priceless artifacts, hand-picked from 15 museums in China.

Highlights include bronze horsemen and chariots of the Han Dynasty, a gilded silver flask and glass bowl from western Asia, gold and silver coins from Rome, Persia and Japan, silk fragments unearthed in Xinjiang, and a five-metre wide mural copy of courtladies from the tomb of Princess Yong.

A backdrop of artificial sand dunes dotted with Tang porcelain replicas of camels, horses and foreign traders gives visitors an insight into life on the Silk Road.

Complementing these Tang treasures is an equally impressive exhibition, ''Gems of Chinese Art - Selections of Ceramic and Bronze from the Collections of the Tsui Art Foundation''.

''Gems of Chinese Art'' consists of Chinese ceramics and bronzes spanning 5,000 years from the Neolithic period to the Qing Dynasty.

The pieces are from the Tsui Art Foundation, collected by a prominent Hongkong industrialist who is a passionate connoisseur of Chinese art.

The exhibition includes displays of painted pottery from the Neolithic period, bronzeware from the Shang dynasty to Warring States era, Han Pottery, tri-coloured ceramics from the Tang period, and porcelain from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.

As well as hosting international exhibitions, Empress Place Museum is now Singapore's premier location for exhibitions of local and foreign painters and artists.

Details of these exhibitions appear regularly in the local newspaper, The Straits Times.

Visitors should plan to spend up to a few hours at Empress Place Museum to take in the exhibitions and enjoy the other facilities.

They can dine in the museum's Chinese restaurant, or enjoy a cup of tea in the cafe.

A showcase of the best Singapore-made jewellery and souvenirs can also be found, as well as the largest antique and art gallery in Singapore.

Located in the heart of Singapore's historical district, the museum is easily accessible.

Exhibition hours are from 9 am to 7.30 pm daily.

Admission prices are S$6 (about HK$28) for an adult and S$3 each for children (below 12 years).

An economical family package is available at S$12 for two adults and three children.