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From Mudflats to Metropolis Exhibition

“From Mudflats to Metropolis” exhibition is a Journey through Singapore’s Development. It is one focused of Singapore’s National Development journey from the founding years of the country pre-independence to the present. The exhibition Nestled in the heart of Singapore’s urban landscape, located in the lobby of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) building at Maxwell.

From Mudflats to Metropolis Exhibition
From Mudflats to Metropolis Exhibition

This temporary exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of Singapore’s remarkable transformation from a humble mudflat to a bustling metropolis. Let’s take an explore of this small but informative exhibition.

A Roving Exhibition

Furthermore, the exhibition is a traveling one. Hence, it’s not confined to a single location. Instead, it roams across various heartland and mall locations in Singapore, allowing for a greater exhibition reach . Also, the exhibition’s schedule runs from now until the end of November this year.

URA Garden atrium
URA Garden atrium

Moreover, the journey begins at the URA Centre. This first installment runs from September 4th to September 30th, 2023. Also, the exhibition is open on weekdays from Monday to Saturday, welcoming you from 9 am to 5 pm.

The short compact gallery be roving all about Singapore.
The short compact gallery be roving all about Singapore.
URA atrium
Orchid garden
Early efforts

Henceforth, the exhbition would make its way to Our Tampines Hub from October 7th to October 15th, followed by Northpoint City from October 21st to October 29th. It is worth noting that While this walk through focuses on the URA center display, by the time this article is published, the exhibition would have moved to Tampines, but it will be the same exhibition.

The displays comprises of encompassing tunnels each with their own coloured themed.
The displays comprises of encompassing tunnels each with their own coloured themed.

Subsequently, Heartbeat@Bedok will host the exhibition from November 4th to November 12th, and it will conclude its journey at VivoCity from November 21st to November 26th. An enticing detail for potential visitors: entry to the exhibition is free, and the public exhibit is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.

Leading into zones
Event brochure

Also, the collaborative effort behind this exhibition involves the Ministry of National Development, Housing Development Board, Public Utilities Board, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Historical Roots

One cannot delve into Singapore’s transformation without acknowledging its historical roots. Over a century ago, Singapore was little more than a mudflat and swamp. Today, it stands as a modern metropolis. The very title of the exhibition, “From Mudflats to Metropolis,” pays homage to a pivotal speech by Lee Kuan Yew on September 12, 1965, at the Sree Narayana Mission. Here, you can find a photograph of Mr. Lee delivering this speech is on display, reminding us of his call for a society based on equality and the progress of all races in Singapore.

Scene of LKY at the Sree Narayana Mission
Scene of LKY at the Sree Narayana Mission

Pre-Independence Challenges

The exhibition skillfully takes you through Singapore’s pre-independence development journey, offering a glimpse of the challenges faced when self-governance was achieved in 1959. At that time, Singapore confronted pressing issues related to housing, sanitation, and rapid industrialization. The government embarked on an ambitious journey to transform the country from a village, kampung, and mudflat area into the vibrant metropolis we see today.


Moreover, in this section, you can view captivating photographs of construction works, including Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats from 1959. Notably sites includes the Marina Bay area, Changi Airport. These early photographs, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore, allow visitors to transport themselves back in time when Singapore was less developed, more open, and forested in comparison to today’s bustling cityscape.

Scenes of early Marina Bay.
Scenes of early Marina Bay.
Gallery Corner, lets check out what's on.
Gallery Corner, lets check out what’s on.

Early Years of Self-Governance and Independence

Additionally, the country’s period spanning the 1950s to the 1970s marked a critical phase in Singapore’s development. The displays paints the recognition the scarcity of land resources and the methods to work with them. Here, Singapore’s founding leaders emphasized the importance of long-term, integrated planning for urban transformation. The exhibition showcases their visionary plans for key infrastructure, housing, and new towns. It serves as an inspiration for all, highlighting the bold and visionary steps taken during this era.

Continuing the Work of Our Pioneers

Moving into the 1970s up to the near-present era of the 2010s, the exhibition continues its exploration of Singapore’s transformation. This period witnessed the addition of iconic landmarks to the Singapore skyline. Examples includes the Marina Bay area, and the development of new housing areas like Punggol. Notably, Marina Barrage is showcased, set against the vibrant backdrop of Marina Bay.

Build environment displays
Park connectors
Making for a livable city

Additionally, you can learn about the innovative strategies employed to diversify Singapore’s water supply and prioritize greening efforts, such as the First water master plan. The development of the iconic Marina Bay is a significant highlight, demonstrating how pivotal plans were translated into reality. The exhibition also spotlights Punggol Northshore. It is Singapore’s first smart and sustainable district. Here, through a series of photographs from the archives of the Housing & Development Board.

Improving Heartlands and Residential Estates

Beyond the city center, the exhibition touches on various government renewal programs and community integration efforts within housing estates.Examples include the Remaking our Heartlands programme since 2007, as well as Placemaking efforts in the 2004 to the present.

Remaking our Heartland programme since 2007.
Remaking our Heartland programme since 2007.

These initiatives aim to enhance the overall living environment, aligning with Singapore’s vision of a garden city. The exhibition also showcases the various tree-planting initiatives such as the Annual tree planting day since the 1971s, that have contributed to making Singapore the green city we know today.

Annual tree planting day since the 1971s, with LKY seen in photos.
Annual tree planting day since the 1971s, with LKY seen in photos.

Also, the exhibition comprises of a mix of printed media on exhibition boards and a mix of TV screens showing audio-visual anecdotes.

Sustainability and Stewardship

As we move towards a greener future, this sector looks to the various Sustainability and stewardship principles that played a vital role in Singapore’s development story. This comprises of a sustainable water source and sanitation facilities.

Garden City
Garden City

The strengthening of the Four National Taps and the transformation of waterbodies into community spaces are highlighted as significant achievements. Examples includes the ABC water programme on 2006. These efforts are not just practical but also contribute to the national consciousness of environmental responsibility.

1st water master plans
Water and sanitation plans
Scenes before independence

Lastly, the exhibition concludes with a forward-looking perspective, offering glimpses into Singapore’s future developments. It underscores the early vision and dedication of Singapore’s founding leaders to build a better nation for all its citizens. These values of courage and resilience continue to guide Singapore’s development plans. This ensures meeting the changing needs and aspirations of both citizens and residents alike.

Foundations for livable cities.
Foundations for livable cities.

Wrapping up

You are good for the small exhibition display under half and hour at the URA gallery at Maxwell. You might remember it as the spot of the city scape exhibition we visited previously. Most visitors would take a 10-15 minutes browse if you are were to read every exhibition piece. In all, “From Mudflats to Metropolis” is a remarkable exhibition that invites you to explore Singapore’s journey from humble beginnings to a thriving metropolis. It provides valuable insights into the challenges faced and the visionary leadership that propelled Singapore to its current status.

All in all, that wraps up the exploration of the Mudflats to Metropolis Exhibition. This small exhibition is not only a historical account but also a testament to Singapore’s enduring and continued commitment to progress, sustainability to deliver a high quality of life for its residents. Whether you are a local or a tourist, or just someone interested in Singapore’s national development, a visit to this exhibition takes a recommendation to gain a deeper understanding of Singapore’s remarkable transformation and its future aspirations.


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