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Story of the Forest: An Interactive Exhibition Of William Farquhar’s Drawings At The National Museum Of Singapore

Keeping in the rising trend of immersive exhibitions, Story of the Forest has been available at the National Museum of Singapore since 10 Dec 2016. This stunning installation by teamLab invites you to join in and be a creator of its beauty.

Story of the Forest currently hosts 69 depictions of the 477 unique flora and fauna of William Farquhar Collection.

Dazzled by the amazing display? Well, before you rush there with your camera, check out this guide that we have put together to get the most out of Story of the Forest.

Download The App

The companion app to Story of the Forest may be found on Google Play and the App Store. Think of it as your pokedex to William Farquhar’s drawings. You’ll see why in a bit.

Part 1 – The Bridge

Upon entry, you’ll find yourself on a walkway covered by a dome-shaped screen drizzling flowers from above, where you can soak in the magical, buoyant feel from the falling petals and dreamy music.

The types of flowers which you will come across can change from time to time. Visiting on one day, you may find that they are yellow, only to see violet blossoms if you were to revisit. Couple that with the random descending patterns of the flowers and you’ve got yourself an exclusive photo.

Standing nearer to either end of the bridge will allow you to capture more of the wide ceiling for that dramatic touch.

The flowers have been designed to increase in size as they descend, producing the illusion that they are about to pop out of the screen at any moment.

After you have taken as many shots as you fancy, head through the curtain ahead and you’ll find yourself in…

Part 2 – Safari Walkway

Made to the likeness of those found in the William Farquhar Collection, the “wild” animals here do not follow a fixed pattern when showing up or moving around on-screen.

Like the falling flowers at the start of the exhibition, every experience will be different when you visit again.

Fire up the app and it’ll start scanning for animals which are near your location. Those that are around you will show up in a live feed which updates as you move around.

Tap on one if you happen to see it in the exhibit. This will bring up your phone camera for you to snap a picture of it, which can be retrieved later in the app. It’ll take a bit of skill here, though, as these critters don’t usually stay still for that perfect shot.

In fact, some animals are programmed to avoid people, while others will attempt to follow you as you walk further along the exhibit. The Slow Loris, for instance, turned its head in order to keep looking at me as I walked away.

After snapping and saving a photo of an animal, it’s image should change from a shadow to a coloured icon under My Collections. Don’t worry, your snapshot does not have to be picture-perfect for this to work. Tapping on any icon on this page, even the grey silhouettes, will bring forth a bio sheet like the one below.

Sometimes, a speaker icon will appear on the upper right; selecting that allows you to hear the sounds produced by the animals.

Rarity is one factor that influences the frequency of an animal appearing on-screen.

Yes, you read that right. There are other factors that reduces the predictability of the exhibit. In fact, there are some wildlife I only discovered on the app but not in person.

A little heads up: the hardest to capture are the birds, which fly away pretty fast. They are hard to spot at all, actually. Look around, they’re usually hidden in trees.

While you’re there, do try to spot the black panther (very rare) or, if you’re up for a challenge, the banded palm civet (near extinction) which needs a sharp eye to avoid confusion with two other types of civets, which are also found on-site.

The Sambar deer is possibly the most photogenic and Instagram-worthy of all the creatures here. Coloured in bright, cheerful tones, it is one of the friendlier animals you’ll meet on this journey.

Like most of its companions, it actively moves to observe its surroundings curiously, so getting a clear photograph of it is challenging – let alone a selfie. The good news is that it’s common and will appear often. Rest assured that there’ll be plenty of chances to retake your shots to your liking.

By the way, even the weather of the “safari” is affected by Singapore’s weather. When it’s raining outside, there’s a higher chance of rain falling in here too. How cool is that?

Part 3 – Magical Forest

After you have photographed the pixels out of the virtual wildlife, it’s time to move on to the next part. Enter another black-curtained doorway and you’ll be in the space under the bridge you crossed in Part 1.

Standing before various sensors located at the base of the screens will cause trees to sprout.

Continue to grace it with your presence and it will be nurtured into forest occupied by some of the friends you might have made earlier.

Just like before, there is an element of unpredictability involved: you will not know which tree you’ll grow nor the types of animals that will accompany it.

Serene music, beautiful views… It’s all pretty relaxing isn’t it? The National Museum has thoughtfully provided a couple of beanbags for those who would like to lie back and lepak for a moment here.

Along with the falling flowers from before, shooting stars can occasionally be spotted as well. Lying back on those beanbags and watching them seems pretty romantic too. And if you’re lucky enough to find the room empty when you visit.

Take it from us when we say you’ve got to be there to feel the ambience yourself.

After The Show

A noteworthy display to check out when you leave is this 1-million-dollar clock.

It was made by Genevan watchmaker Patek Philippe, based on drawings from the William Farquhar Collection, for a fundraising auction. After the sale, it was donated back to the National Museum and is now aptly on display after Story of the Forest.

Story of the Forest is the creation of a mini world to escape into for a short while. Even those who are not photo enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the dreamlike environment. What’s more, because of the experience varies each time, there is value in revisiting to simply enjoy some time in a relaxing, virtual imitation of nature.

Dates & Times: Permanent exhibition, 10am – 7pm (Daily)

Price: Free admission for Singaporeans & PRs

Story of the Forest: Level 2, Glass Rotunda, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

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