With its new Tango-enabled tour that makes use of virtual and augmented reality, children can have fun learning about the history and architecture of the National Museum of Singapore.

The kids are too young to remember the floating Indian Fin whale at the National Museum of Singapore since it was transferred to Malaysia in the 1970s. But from next Saturday (22 April 2017), they’ll be able to see it virtually with the museum’s new Tango-enabled Architectural Tours.

Tango, a Google-created technology, uses indoor mapping, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Installed into a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro handheld device, it lets visitors explore how the museum has evolved over the past 130 years, as well as view artefacts that are no longer on display.


While Tango-enabled tours have been used in other museums around the world and at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore (for its Into The Wild exhibition), this is the first time that it is being used in an architectural tour. It is also the first time that it is used to merge the past and the present.

What a smart way to help kids of today (who love anything to do with devices and technology) develop an interest in the museum’s history and architecture!

First of all, they get to use a mobile device (about the size of a large smartphone). Furthermore, there are sliders and pop-up information boxes, virtual directional buttons and more for them to explore at each stop. Finally, they get to see the previously-mentioned whale come to life, and even hear a soundscape of its calls.

What’s a Tango-Enabled Tour Experience like?

Start the device and let it ‘map’ where you are. Point the device at different points in the museum and see it bring up information for your location. Watch your real surroundings merge with a virtual world on the device screen, and move the device to bring you closer to what you want to see.

At the Rotunda for example, you will be able to view the stuffed tiger and paintings that used to be exhibited there. You will also be able to see a 3D image of the museum exterior. Holding the device at a lower height (try kneeling down) brings you closer to the large triangular pediment on the top left of the building so that you can get up close and personal to Queen Victoria’s coat of arms here.

You’ll even be able to play spot-the-pineapple — yes, there’s one — in the building’s reliefs because the device will bring you (virtually) right to the side of the museum. It’s almost as if you were Spiderman!

6 Points of Interest on the Tango-Enabled Architectural Tour

Here’s what your and your child can discover while using the device on the tour’s six Tango-enabled points of interest:

1. Main Rotunda, Level 1

Image: National Museum of Singapore

• See a 3D model of the museum.
• Use a time slider to view the building’s expansion from 1887 to 2006.
• Activate the “Time Machine” feature to ‘see’ the Rotunda as it was in the 1950s.
• You’ll also get to see artefacts such as a marble bust of Sir Stamford Raffles, as well as original floor tiles laid by the British (perfect for that #FromWhereIStand shot on IG)

2. Spiral Staircase, Level 2

Image: National Museum of Singapore

You’ve probably heard rumours about the ghost sightings of a former museum director, yes? Find out how true they are!

3. Glass Passage, Level 2

Images: National Museum of Singapore

• See an augmented reality view of the 42-foot long Indian Fin whale skeleton as it was displayed from 1907 to the 1970s.
• Tap a button at the bottom of the screen and watch the whale come to life.
• Put the device closer to your ear to hear a soundscape of its whale calls.

4. Glass Passage, Level 2

Image: National Museum of Singapore

See a slideshow of natural history artefacts that previously occupied in this space.

5. Glass Atrium, Level 2

• See a 3D model of the museum, including greenery at the Fort Canning entrance.
• View a video of the Glass Rotunda’s current installation, Story of the Forest.

6. Entrance to the Singapore History Gallery, Level 1

• View a slideshow of archival photos from Matthew Ngui’s wall installation that was previously exhibited here.
• See a 3D model of the museum in its last phase of construction in 2006.
• Watch a three minute video on the history of the National Museum.

The National Museum’s Tango-Enabled Tour Details

Where National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

When Saturdays:
• 22 April (3pm & 5pm)
• 29 April (2pm)
• 6 May (3pm & 5pm)
• 13 May (3pm & 5pm)

Length of tour One hour

Cost Free, for a maximum of 15 people per tour, on a first-come-first-served basis

Meeting point Left corner of the Rotunda (facing in from the main museum entrance)

Registration www.nationalmuseum.sg

Kid-friendly? Children 10 years and above are welcome. Adult supervision is required for younger children

Feature image: National Museum of Singapore