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6 new highlights at Fort Canning Park, from interactive heritage gallery to expanded spice garden

The opening of a new Fort Canning Heritage Gallery and an expanded Spice Garden is in conjunction with the Singapore Night Festival.

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A new heritage gallery and an enhanced spice garden have opened at Fort Canning Park. The attractions were scheduled to open last year, but their launch was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a manpower crunch. Tan Si Hui reports.

SINGAPORE: A new gallery tracing the heritage of Fort Canning Park and an expanded spice garden opened at Fort Canning Park on Friday (Aug 26).

The heritage gallery will give the public an opportunity to learn more about the park's history, while the spice garden has grown to feature more varieties of plants, herbs and spice trees, the National Parks Board (NParks) said in a press release.

These attractions were due to open in 2021 but were delayed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing manpower crunch.

Here are the details of the new attractions available at Fort Canning Park.


Housed in the newly refurbished Fort Canning Centre, the heritage gallery is spread over five zones on two levels of its south wing.

Excluding an introduction zone, each zone is themed according to a particular role that Fort Canning Hill played in the history of Singapore, NParks said.

The themed zones include Singapore's development since the 14th century, Fort Canning Hill's development as a military base, the hill's changes over the decades, and the hill during the country's modern development phase.

"The gallery features archaeological artefacts excavated from sites within Fort Canning Park and multiple digital interactive stations," NParks added.

The gallery was designed in consultation with archaeologists and historians across Singapore.


The final zone of Fort Canning Heritage Gallery will also hold a mini-theatrette.

It will play a film containing repurposed footage from the Singapore Bicentennial centrepiece event in 2019, which was held at the Fort Canning Centre.

Aside from the film - which is titled "From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience" - a full set of the costume worn by actors playing the Malay prince Sang Nila Utama from the Singapore Bicentennial will also be on display.


The spice garden at Fort Canning Park has been redesigned and expanded to about 3,200 sq m in area, comprising three zones: The previous Spice Garden, Canning Rise and a new Fort Canning Spice Gallery.

It now boasts two water features and enhanced landscaping.

With more than 180 varieties of plants featured, it is Singapore's most diverse spice garden.

The garden includes spices such as gambier and pepper - some of the earliest commercial crops in Singapore, pre-dating the British arrival in the country.

Spice trees such as the nutmeg and clove are also featured. They played an important role as the main commercial spice crops in Singapore in the early 19th century.


The Spice Gallery optimises the use of existing space by incorporating a former pedestrian ramp and underpass across Canning Rise, NParks said.

"Visitors can learn more about the role that spice trade played in the history of Singapore, the early history of spice plantations here, and the importance of Fort Canning Park in promoting Singapore as a spice trading and producing hub, as it housed Singapore’s first botanical and experimental garden founded in 1822," the board added.

Interpretive panels, interactive displays and curated planting feature in the Spice Gallery.

The sheltered underpass contains replicas of a spice provision shop and local kopitiam to teach visitors about the early history of spice plantations in Singapore.

It also includes an indoor gardening setup using grow lights, to showcase the use of technology in gardening.


An NParks-produced book titled "Fort Canning Park: Heritage & Gardens" has been launched.

It documents the history and design concept of the park's nine landscaped gardens.

There are also various stories and facts about the park's fauna, heritage monuments and objects, and buildings.

It can be purchased at various locations around the Singapore Botanic Gardens or at the Gardens Shop website.


The third level of the Fort Canning Centre will play host to a new Gallery@L3, a 210 sq m space hosting exhibitions and events, NParks said.

Its first exhibition, a collaboration with the Society for Chinese Ceramics Studies (SCCS), is titled "Kaleidoscope in Clay (I): Glazes and Forms through 5,000 years of Chinese Ceramics".

About 140 pieces of Chinese ceramics from the collection of SCCS members will be showcased, including pieces dated to as early as more than 4,000 years ago.

In conjunction with the exhibition, SCCS will also organise a 12-lecture course on the history of Chinese ceramics.

An exhibition preview of selected exhibits will run from Aug 26 to Sep 11, with the full exhibition opening from Oct 7 to Feb 10, 2023. 

A second exhibition titled "Kaleidoscope in Clay (II)" will focus on Song and Yuan dynasty ceramics and run from Feb 24, 2023 to Jun 30, 2023.

All exhibitions are open to the public, and admission is free.


The opening of the new Fort Canning Heritage Gallery and the expanded Spice Garden is in conjunction with the Singapore Night Festival.

In view of this, the Fort Canning Heritage Gallery will extend its opening hours till 10pm on Aug 27.

As part of the Festival at the Fort suite of programs, there will be movie screenings, guided tours, game tours and children’s craft activities.

The new facilities at Fort Canning Park are part of NParks' efforts for the second phase of the park's masterplan.

Renovation of existing buildings at the Foothills location within the park has been completed, together with a food and beverage outlet. And enhancements to a playground at Jubilee Park will commence in 2023.

"These enhancements will offer a variety of recreational options to park users, providing spaces for respite and bringing Singaporeans closer to greenery in our city in nature," said NParks.

Source: CNA/nh(jo)


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