Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

Explore a different way of learning through imaginative play. Broaden your child’s mind with unique interactive experiences. Teach values like openness, acceptance, care and love. These are things we all want for our children, and the best way to discover them is through art.

As a mother, I often stand in awe of the wonders of childhood. These early years are a blissful time when the world is your canvas and you are free to open your arms (and your mind!) to embrace all that life has to offer. It’s no surprise then that children jump out of bed every morning, looking forward to new journeys and adventures.

During the school holidays, I have been constantly in search of meaningful experiences to engage my children. Throughout the school year, we focus so much on academic learning. So I wanted to go beyond that and expose them to art. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made as art can teach children so much – culture, the power of the imagination, and the importance of being human.

I needed to look no further than National Gallery Singapore, winner of the 2018 Children in Museum Award. Happening right now (until 29 December) is an experience of wonder that you shouldn’t miss – Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019. It is a treasure trove of experiences for every child and a dream come true for every parent.

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: Embracing Wonder

The second edition of Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019 is a display of eleven imaginative artwork installations, each of which opens the door to a world of its own. But the sum of these exhibits is far greater than its parts. Taken as a whole, it is a journey where your child can experience a new dimension of creativity and wondrous surprises. In short, it is a place where education meets imagination and creativity.

Make no mistake about it, children are at the very heart of the Biennale.

  • Each exhibit is designed as an interactive experience. Children are encouraged to touch, hear and feel art.
  • Many of the exhibits show the culture and way of life of people in Singapore and across the region,
  • Themes of openness and acceptance will definitely broaden the minds of the young, which is so important in these times.

If you’re wondering where to begin or how to go about the exhibits, let us take you on a virtual tour.

Discover Wonder Beyond Borders

A number of the Biennale’s exhibits immerse your child in different cultures. Knowledge of other cultures plays an integral role in teaching children to embrace what makes them unique and treasure the differences in others.

Some of the exhibits in this category are:

Dayung Sampan – Be Your Own Captain on Deck

The Other Wall

Every World

Play by the River

and Kenangan Kunang-Kunang   (Memories of Fireflies)

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

Kenangan Kunang-Kunang, by Eko Nugroho, is inspired by Damar Kurung  – the traditional lanterns hung on facades of homes during Ramadan. Treat your eyes to a stunning display of lanterns coming alive in a captivating interplay of shadows, colours and patterns. Each lantern represents five facets of democracy: collaboration, love, equality, care and peace.

The various lanterns require different numbers of people for the lights and colours to be activated, and my children had a ball of a time making new friends while activating the lanterns!

Apart from admiring the breath-taking beauty of these lanterns, this was the perfect opportunity for me to introduce the concept of democracy to my seven year old. It launched him into a whirlwind of questions, and that, to me, is evidence of active learning taking place!

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

For the younger ones who might not be able to understand complex concepts, Play by the River  is a perfect fit. My four year old made new friends while playing traditional games under trees in an immersive landscape that brings to life a 1950’s kampung in Singapore. His reaction upon discovering that this is how Singapore was in the pre-digital era, was priceless!


Imagination at Play

One of the best parts about this exhibition is that there really is something for everyone. I was initially apprehensive about bringing three children of different ages in fear that one might get bored, but my fears proved to be completely unfounded.

My two-year old especially enjoyed the exhibits in this category. The multi-sensory experiences enticed the younger ones to explore various textures, sights and sounds.

Chance Operations, by Song-Ming Ang, was a hit as the children got to create unique melodies using balls. While my youngest broke into fits of giggles at the random sounds she created, my oldest, an aspiring musician, had a great experience experimenting with sound.

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

The Oort Cloud and The Blue Mountain also engaged their senses through touch and play with a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and textures.

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

BIG HUG  was exceptionally enticing and I had the hardest time getting my children out of this exhibit. It is essentially an exhibit made of four different rooms – “Self Room”, “Family Room”, “Friendship Room” and “Discover the World”. From interacting with intricate ceramic pieces, to exploring rooms with vibrant illustrations in every corner, the children were definitely kept busy.

Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019: an experience of wonder

The Story of Karung Guni Boy  was the highlight for me. But that’s also because the bookworm in me is tad bit biased towards where the books are. Whether you’re a book lover or not, it’s a great stop. Let me share with you why.

Firstly, the plush cushions provide some respite from all the walking around. As you walk in, there are pull-out quotes from the story of Ming, and this makes children want to read the story.

As you delve into the story of Ming, the boy who loves to build sculptures using recycled materials, you can teach your children many different things all at once. From saving the planet by recycling, to creativity, to more complex ideas like learning how to “embrace” as this is a story of a boy who embraced the reality of his situation. It is a tale of resilience. As parents, we want our children to find the Ming that lives within them!

Be Inspired by Artists

To make the experience more authentic and complete, there are also sessions where you can meet and interact with the brains behind these captivating displays. Artist Chitter-Chatter presents you the opportunity to ask the artists featured in the Biennale how they came up with their ideas, or pretty much anything!  The next session is taking place on 25 August, so save the date!

There are also holiday specials such as a Storytelling Weekend on 14 and 15 September. Why not block off the entire day to spend at the Gallery?

It has been a fortnight since we visited Gallery Children’s Biennale and my children are still actively discussing it. They have also taken a more active interest in widening their horizons by enquiring about the culture and way of life of others. My eldest has bombarded our helper with questions about her native village!

The world we live in today, more so than ever before, calls for children to be open and embracing. Art is a unique way to teach them compassion, fuel their imaginations, and ignite the fire of wonder. Come visit Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019!

For further information and details on each exhibit, log on to Gallery Children’s Biennale 2019 website.   


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Written by

Nasreen Majid

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