Every Body Plays a Part
Sep 18, 2020 - Sep 14, 2021
Want to find out more about Singapore’s past experiences with infectious diseases, and how lessons learnt from them are being used to manage the COVID-19 pandemic?
Learn more in Every Body Plays a Part: A Showcase of Public Health Crises and Responses in Singapore by the National Museum of Singapore. This online showcase provides insights into Singapore’s past experiences with infectious diseases and public health issues and observes how some of these measures are still undertaken to manage the COVID-19 pandemic today.
Every Body Plays a Part presents 39 artefacts and one newly-commissioned photograph.
The photograph and 35 of the artefacts have never been displayed in the National Museum’s galleries. In addition, the exhibition highlights the measures taken to stem the spread of contagious diseases on the island, the introduction of vaccines, the creation of hospitals, and the roles played by key local personalities such as Dr Lim Boon Keng and Tan Tock Seng, as well as the public campaigns aimed at encouraging a clean and hygienic environment – the effects of which are still prevalent today.
- Exhibit A: The Distancing of Bodies introduces one of the earliest accounts of social distancing and the practice of quarantine in Singapore through artefacts dating back to the early 19th century. As passengers onboard ships often carried infectious diseases such as cholera, smallpox and measles, ports functioned as control zones to restrict the influx of such illnesses.
- Exhibit B: The Inoculation of Bodies features artefacts and documents related to vaccination practices and policies in Singapore over the years. Infectious diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and tuberculosis that were common were treated with vaccinations.
- Exhibit C: The Hygiene of Bodies explores the contributions of Dr Lim Boon Keng, one of Singapore’s pioneering social reformers, as well as the role of playgrounds and public campaigns in helping Singaporeans cultivate good hygiene habits to safeguard public health, and to stay active and healthy.
- Exhibit D: The Restoration of Bodies showcases images related to early hospitals and medical halls that played a major role in helping the sick. It also features non-medical options that have been used to restore one’s health over the years, some of which are still available today. The COVID-19 virus that has afflicted millions globally has made us acutely aware of the fragility of our bodies, and ignited a race against time to find a cure. Attempts to develop vaccines to shield ourselves against the infection continue to be made across the world.
As part of its public engagement efforts to broaden Singapore’s contemporary collection, the National Museum also invites residents in Singapore to contribute objects and accompanying stories and photos to its ongoing Collecting Contemporary Singapore: Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore initiative. Visit https://go.gov.sg/nms-ccs-
Every Body Plays a Part: A Showcase of Public Health Crises and Responses in Singapore will be available on the National Museum’s website at https://go.gov.sg/