The Singapore General Hospital is a long and enduring institution with a legacy that dates back to colonial times. National pride in this hospital and its history is reflected in the Singapore General Hospital Museum, which is a designated member of the Singapore National Heritage Board. Housed in the beautiful Bower Block in one of the three blocks constituting the Singapore General Hospital, the SGH museum is the emblem of over two hundred years of medicine as well as medical education. With all the hallmarks of contemporary museums, SGH Museum does not confine itself to still displays, but has several interactive state-of-the-art multimedia exhibits as well. It not only outlines the history of Singapore General Hospital, but the spirit of health care that continues to govern it.
SGH Museum highlights
A history of medical care
The Singapore General Hospital opened in 1926. To commemorate this history, you will see a 3-D details model of the landscape of the SGH block in the 1940’s. To really bring the display to life and transport you to its early days, the model also has projections of doctors talking about working and lived in the SGH block during this period. The luminaries section portrays several prominent former practitioners as well.
Piece by piece
Upon entering the block, you will see that the SGH museum has an array of displays organized in groups of four. As one of the centerpieces of the SGH museum is a model of the symbolic Snake & the Staff molded out of a material known as ‘liquid metal’. An engraving of the complete Hippocratic Oath alongside the sculpture affirms the dedication of health care experts to their profession.
The other centerpiece on the further end of the SGH museum is a Time Capsule, containing objects which exemplify the mission and accomplishments of the Singapore General Hospital. It would be very interesting to see what these chosen objects are!
Here are the other displays you will see:
- The first kiosk has a display called “The First Hospital”, which narrates the beginnings of the Singapore General Hospital in 1821 as a simple wooden shed, and how even then the hospital started to garner prestige.
- The “Teaching Hospital” display contains several memorabilia from the earlier days of the King Edward VII College of Medicine. One particularly notable item in this display is a silver scroll holder which is perhaps the oldest artifact of the school. It belonged to Dr G.D. Freer, renowned as the College’s first Principal.
- Another display, “Hospital Under Siege”, gives first-hound accounts of hospital life during the Japanese Occupation. Doctors and full-time staff strove to tend to the ill and the wounded in trying times against the background of a war, a feat which is as noteworthy as soldiers’ combat.
- The display entitled “The People’s Hospital”, just next to the “The First Hospital” display, is a beautiful rendition of the SGH’s commitment to its role in society through the ages. Through various interviews with doctors alongside archival images of them, you learn about the non-medical aspect of the hospital: how it has grown and evolved alongside its growing and evolving population.
- The “Luminaries” section of the museum layout hails the committed and dedicated doctors of SGH. Their work is commemorated by their personal items, several of which are donated by their relatives.
- There are other kinds of emblematic pieces as well: a particularly unforgettable on is a life-sized animatronic robot figure of renowned Professor E.S. Monteiro. The robot speaks and gestures in a manner identical to that of the late Professor, extrapolating on his approach to the art of medicine.
- Other displays on the SGH’s Alma matter shows how much the hospital prizes its most committed caretakers. Other displays also map the growth and advance of medical practice, as well as innovative medical procedures practised by the SGH.
- SGH museum is a wonderful way to value not only SGH doctors, but doctors throughout the history of mankind. Visitors to the museum are welcome to marvel its various exhibits and learn about both the historical and current aspects of the SGH. As always, a visit to the SGH museum’s gift shop is bound to bestow you with a souvenir to remind you of your visit as well as of the wonders of human endeavor in medicine.
The Singapore General Hospital, SGH Museum
Bowyer Block Clock Tower,
11 Third Hospital Avenue,
Tel: (+65) 6326 5294
9am to 6pm from Mon to Fri
9am to 1pm on Sat
Closed Sun & Public Holidays
Free, tours cost $5.00 per head.
For more information & museum highlights, please click here.