This is the year 2021, Singapore along with the whole world is still battling the ongoing global pandemic COVID-19 that arrived in 2020, sending the world into an unprecedented global crisis. While Singapore may have its COVID-19 under control, we still need to be vigilant and not let our guard down against this ongoing global pandemic. Do you still remember what happened about one year ago in 2020 when Singapore entered into the circuit breaker period? I really hope the residents in Singapore haven’t forget about the circuit breaker that took place in 2020. Now you can go back in time to 2020 and revisit it – Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore.  

Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore is the first major exhibition of year by the National Museum of Singapore. This exhibition was made possible by the museum’s rapid response to documenting the stories and experiences of people in Singapore during the pandemic’s early phases, how the people in Singapore came together through their responses and live through this crisis. 

With a collection of 272 photographs. a short film and 16 donated artefacts on display at this exhibition, visitors will get a glimpse into the diverse lives of fellow residents, as they adapt to a “new normal” that we know today, working and caring for one another in this pandemic. All these experiences through the eyes and lens of the photographers, filmmakers, curators as well as from the subjects themselves, lending a voice to the lesser-known stories from this pandemic. This also offers a glimpse into the social bonds, tenacity and resilience across the diverse communities in Singapore.

The National Museum of Singapore has an ongoing Collecting Contemporary Singapore initiative that seeks to collaborate with the public to collect personal stories and objects that capture shared moments in Singapore’s recent history for the future generations of Singapore. This exhibition is part of this initiative and it’s a result of National Museum of Singapore’s rapid response to document and collect materials related to Singapore’s experience of this pandemic. 

A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore

The diverse works of five photographers – Bob Lee, Edwin Koo, How Hwee Young, Brian Teo and Zakaria Zainal, as well as a short film produced by filmmakers Dave Lim and Adar Ng, are showcased at this exhibition. This exhibition has five themes – A Day in the Life, Essential Workers, New Ways of Living, Making Visible and The Spaces Between Us. The photography works are up close and personal of people living in Singapore, from the young to the old, from migrant workers to professionals working in the essential services sector. When you view and observe the photographs on display at the exhibition, you can see how members of the public welcomed the photographers and filmmakers into their lives, providing an honest look at how they responded to and coped with this pandemic.

When you enter into the exhibition gallery, keep a lookout for the following and the stories behind them:

Zakaria Zainal’s – Deliver and Keeping the Faith

How Hwee Young’s – Para-athlete and Singapore General Hospital and Spaces

Edwin Koo’s – Community Healthcare 

Bob Lee’s – Angels of Mercy and Unsung Heroes

Brian Teo’s – Safe Distancing Ambassadors and Schools’ Responses to COVID-19

Before you leave the exhibition, remember to check out the display of 16 pandemic-related objects, contributed by members of the public and organisations as part of the museum’s Collecting Contemporary Singapore initiative. 

As the global pandemic COVID-19 is still ongoing and continue to be evolving, the National Museum of Singapore welcomes members of the public to contribute objects and stories, particularly their unique face mask creations or innovative and creative responses to the pandemic. You can learn more about the National Museum’s Collecting Contemporary Singapore: Documenting COVID-19 in Singapore initiative here. This public call is jointly held with the National Library Board, is open for submissions until 30th June 2021.

I highly recommend everyone to visit Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore. This global pandemic is not over, we are still not out of the woods yet. This exhibition will be an excellent reminder to all of us here in Singapore not to be complacent, feeling lazy or feeling fatigued from the ongoing battle against this global pandemic. 

When you visit the exhibition viewing the photographs and short films on what took place in Singapore in 2020 when we were battling this global pandemic (and we are still battling it at this point in time), this is a reminder to all of us, if we let our guard down against this global pandemic, we may have to enter into another circuit breaker. Let’s face it, none of us here wants another circuit breaker. 

Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 exhibition information and details

Location: Exhibition Gallery, National Museum of Singapore

Exhibition Dates: 27th February to 29th August 2021

Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 7pm

Admission: Free for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents

For more information, please visit for the latest updates on the exhibition

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