The Maritime Experiential Museum (formerly known as the Maritime Xperiential Museum) is an interactive museum located right on the Sentosa island at the Sentosa Waterfront just off the entrance to the popular S.E.A. Aquarium & Adventure Cove Waterpark entrance in Resorts World Sentosa. Opened on 15 October 2011, it is set right in the heart of the Singapore maritime and shipping port off the Sentosa coast facing the island of Singapore. You can recognize the museum through its unique maroon “steampunk” exterior styling combined with a dash of oriental touches. The museum is set around the 9-10th century era where the island was a busy maritime hub and trading port, busy with people, traders and merchants.
Greeting you right at the museum entrance is a spectacular replica recreation of Bao Chuan (Admiral Zheng He’s Treasure Ship). Well, only the front of the ship only at least- built to life-sized scale, complete with an animatronic lion head representing the ships front emblem which moves, growls and even produces smoke effects from its nostrils. The animatronics at the museum entrance compliments very well the short 10 minute video clip in Mandarin (with English subtitles) is projected the front of the massive boat which replays every 20 minutes. Here, guests can sit in large bean bags in a stadium style seating arrangement to catch the display in air-conditioned comfort. This portion of the museum is free, with the payable areas of museum accessible just off the turnstile gantries.
The Museum pride itself as being the only museum in the country showcasing Asia’s rich maritime history, allowing you to discover Singapore’s past back in time through the ancient Maritime Silk Route. Entering the museum turn tiles will bring you through this Silkroad linear exhibit running through the museum building length-wise. Here, you get to experience recreated sights, sounds and scents of pre-colonial southeast Asian, such as the bustling bazaars and trading ports.
There are plenty of interactive exhibits on display, with lots of artifacts of the era on display in an interactive and multi-sensorial manner, complete with touch and hand-on at the arts and craft stations. You can find items from the Temasek archaeological site at the Maritime Archaeology Gallery and life-sized ship replicas of Asian sailing vessels from the docks at the Historic Ship Harbour. The exhibits extremely kid-friendly too with an extensive use of multimedia and games, brought to you by Dell and Intel to involve the young ones. If you grab the “Silkroad passport”, there are several stamp punch stations you can use to populate you book with unique stamps through your museum journey.
A secondary attraction in the museum is the Typhoon Theater, a multisensory “4th dimensional” video presentation bringing visitors aboard a 9th-century Chinese sailing junk ship through a perilous storm. The experience is impressive, complete with blowing air and moving seats that recreates the journey of the cargo ship through the wrath of stormy seas through 360 degree theater through two curved 180 degree screens measuring 23 meters wide and a 13-channel audio system . As the ship sinks at the end of the movie, the floor drops and visitors follow a continuing image display that reveals an underwater landscape. The Typhoon Theater experience lasts about 5 minutes and costs an additional S$6 for adults and S$4 for children on top of the ticket entrance fees.
Moving on to the lower floors of the museum will bring you to the Jewel of Muscat Cargo holds exhibit. Suspended over the lower exhibition area is an accurate reproduction of the Arab dhow ship named the Jewel of Muscat recreating part of the Belitung ship’s route from Oman to Indonesia. This accurate reproduction of the Arab dhow ship spans the bulk of the museum basement floors flanked by various mini displays and the museum gift shop. One of the main purposes of the museum is to house these some of the 60,000 artefacts salvaged from the Belitung shipwreck, an Arabian dhow wrecked off the coast of Belitung Island. The shipwreck itself was discovered in 1998 by sea-cucumber fishermen diving in the shallow waters of the region, just off the coast of Belitung island, near Java.
The wreck was recovered by Tilman Walterfang with approximately 60,000 cargo items was still in place. The cargo was not sold off to collectors for profit, but rather kept the rare cargo as one complete intact collection for studies in its original logistical layout and context. It was housed in private storage for six years where the items are conserved, studied and carefully restored by Tilman’s company in New Zealand (Seabed Explorations Ltd). The artifacts themselves were presented by the Sultanate of Oman to the government and people of Singapore and were purchased to support research and conservation.The cargo was eventually purchased for around $32 million US by the Sentosa Leisure Group in 2005 and displayed at the Singapore Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands (Exhibition: Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds) till 2011 before finding it’s place here in the museum.
The museum ends with an exit past the gift shop and an off-site view of the S.E.A aquarium bringing you back up to the museum main lobby and entrance. In all, the museum is a nice place for families if you are looking for at least 1-2 hours to kill on your visit to Sentosa. It is open from 10am to 7pm Monday to Thursday and up till 9pm on Friday and weekends, admission fee is S$5 for adults and S$3 for children and you get free entry within the day if you’ve purchased tickets to S.E.A aquarium or Adventure cove too.
View more photos of the Maritime Experiential Museum here.