Saturday, March 18, 2017

Really not worth the time and money - NASA - A Human Adventure Exhibition

Lesson learnt today: Museums are meant to be enjoyed on quiet weekdays.

I usually go for exhibitions on weekdays which is naturally less stressful for me because I don't have to get annoyed at the people who keep blocking my view when I want to read the content and see the exhibits or stand in my way when I want to take photos. Coupled with those selfie maniacs who wouldn't rest until they get the perfect shot in that pitch-black room, the boisterous young people who just want to have fun rather than view the exhibition or those who are bent on talking big business on their phones in that quiet hall, weekend exhibition visits are usually a big no-no for me. The reason why I made an exception today was my inability to make it on a weekday these few months and that it's ending tomorrow so there was no choice. However, the whole experience left much to be desired and reaffirmed my belief that I should avoid exhibitions on weekends as much as possible.

If you are planning to catch this tomorrow on the last day, do take note of the following:

1) Book your tickets online first.
On hindsight, I should have booked the ticket online but I wasn't sure if I could make it today until the last minute so I didn't. As such, it resulted in a 30-min wait just to get the ticket and another 10 mins outside the exhibition hall to get in.
There is a shorter queue to get your tickets if you have made the online booking so it will cut the queuing time considerably.

2) Make sure you go in a group of even numbers
The one-for-one offer means that you will be disadvantaged if you are going for this alone or in a group of odd numbers. There is no discounted price for people who are on their own so effectively, you pay the price for 2 tickets. What's more annoying is that, as a Sands member, there is no discount for this exhibition even though I've enjoyed this perk a number of times in the past.
By the way, in case you are wondering, you can sign up for the Sands membership for free and there is no minimum spending requirement. There are some privileges, offers and discounts at various shops and you can earn points which can be redeemed for rewards. One of the key reasons I got this membership even though I don't go to MBS that often is because it offers further discounts on the ArtScience Museum tickets.

3) Remember to get your free Vitaminwater
It is stated on the ticket that you get one bottle of Vitaminwater for each ticket presented to the museum shop so don't forget to get it.

4) Beware of the tight walkways
If you are intending to bring your kids along, you may want to consider leaving your prams outside although I'm not sure if you can leave it in the museum's custody. The main reason is that the huge number of visitors plus the narrower-than-usual walkways will make it difficult for you to navigate.

On the whole, I wasn't sure what the purpose of this exhibition was. It seemed like the exhibits were put together but there was no coherent "theme" linking all these elements sequentially in a line. For example, the section about the space missions only focused on Russia and US but it would have been better if there was some insight into the space exploration efforts from other countries as well.

The display of the information also left much to be desired. For example, in the section which featured various people who had visions about space exploration such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Jules Verne, the screen which featured individual write-ups about them took so long to move on to the next person that it was impossible to stand there and read everything especially with the never-ending batches of people coming into the hall and jostling for space. If it had been a less crowded day, this might not have been an issue but still, the slideshow really needs to speed up.

Another thing which got me really annoyed was that the explanation for the exhibits were placed too far from the exhibits. It wouldn't have been less of an issue if the hall was less crowded but then it looked as if the information was crammed into one board for a few groups of exhibits. As such, I had to keep shuttling to and fro just to make sense of what I was seeing. To do that against the flow of the human traffic was an arduous effort and you can't help but feel that people are annoyed about you "holding up" the traffic. In addition, some of these panels had a glass cover over it which created light reflections thus making it even more difficult to read the content.

As there were quite a number of equipment and space shuttle exhibits which are naturally quite large, this seemed to have affected the amount of space left for people to move around and to look at the exhibits from various angles. For example, there was a model of a space shuttle which was so long that I couldn't take a decent shot of it because the walkway was crammed with people who were watching a video on the wall opposite this exhibit. Just getting to see the information panel was a huge challenge. Based on my experience so far from various exhibitions, if videos are to be shown, there is usually a space for people to gather in front of the screen where there are seats provided at times. It is unusual for so many things to be fitted within one small space and it hinders both those who want to watch the video and those who want to see that exhibit. As you can see here, I didn't manage to take a picture of the entire shuttle and had to take four photos of different portions.

Considering how expensive the ticket was (mine was $19 for a local resident ticket but it would have been halved if someone shared the extra ticket with me), I wasn't expecting this G-Force experience to come with a fee. In fact, the museum's website didn't indicate that at all:

Experience gravity as you never have! Take a trip to space and back and have a taste of what it feels like to be an astronaut embarking on your journey out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Let astronaut and test pilot Gus Grissom be your guide as you go on the famous Mercury Liberty Bell 7 flight, the second in a series of successful U.S. manned suborbital flights in 1961.

Imagine my surprise that this comes at a fee of SGD 6 per ride! From my video taken outside the fence, the whole ride was a mere one minute. How does that sound to you? No wonder only the young people were queuing for this!

On the whole, I was very disappointed with this exhibition. Frankly speaking, even if I had gone on a weekday and didn't experience all these issues with queuing and crowds, I would still have been dissatisfied because the content was very lacking. This was a shame especially considering that most of the exhibitions I've been to at the ArtScience Museum met my expectations. When you think of the fact that their admission tickets are generally pricier than our local museums which offer free entry for citizens and PRs most of the time (except for some special exhibitions), there's got to be more effort in ensuring that the content matches up to the price tag. And I really hope that I won't be penalised yet again for going to museums alone.

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