From a distance, the front lawn of the National Museum of Singapore looks like a 1970s playground, with an iconic orange-red dragon's head slide and an orange-red elephant slide occupying prime space.
But instead of the concrete slides of old, this is a modern re-imagining: a bouncy castle. The inflatable installation is part of the museum's Masak Masak: My Childhood exhibition, which is one of the programmes in the seventh annual Children's Season line-up.
Organised by the National Heritage Board and the Museum Roundtable, the season will run from Saturday to June 29. It will feature more than 40 programmes recommended for children aged 14 and below and families, and will involve 21 museums.
Ms Cheryl Koh, director of marketing and corporate communications at the heritage board, says the month-long season is "for young audiences to get involved with museums and love museums from young, so that when they grow older, it becomes natural for them to want to visit museums".
She adds that the activities are a great way for families to bond: "Some of the activities might spark conversation between parents and their children, and parents can tell their kids stories about how they grew up and about their hobbies."
One of the highlights this year is the launch of Play @ National Museum of Singapore, which opens on Saturday. The area on Level 3 of the museum is a dedicated space where children aged three to seven can get to know the museum better and also experience history and heritage in a fun and interactive manner.
Aside from Play, the museum will also feature activities such as larger-than-life versions of childhood games - including pick-up sticks and five stones - and a cardboard box installation by Singapore artist Justin Lee scattered throughout the museum.
Ms Christie Chua, assistant director of audience development and partnerships at the museum, says that with the programmes, "we want to reminisce about history, think about it, talk about it, but in a way in which children can enjoy and which is fun and immersive".
She adds that the activities were designed to encourage interaction between parents and children.
"That dialogue is very important. We want to ensure that both parents and children have a good time together at the museum and not have only the child playing in a corner while mummy is at the museum's restaurant," she says with a laugh.
Another museum which is taking part in the season this year is the National University of Singapore Museum, which is at the institution's Kent Ridge Campus. It will be holding two workshops for children aged seven to 12 - Family Fun With Clay Art and Creative Linocut Printing.
Ms Poonam Lalwani, guest relations and outreach manager at NUS Baba House, says the workshops are designed to tie in with exhibitions at the museum.
She says: "Through the hands-on workshop with clay, we hope to introduce parents and children to our Ng Eng Teng collection of more than 100 sculptures and drawings by the Cultural Medallion recipient. For the linocut workshop, we're hoping to introduce them to the process of creating a print, which is similar to woodcuts by artists such as Lim Mu Hue."
Taking part in the season for the first time this year is the Singapore Discovery Centre, which will put up Folktales, Fables And Fantastic Futures: Stories We Share, an exhibition featuring folktales from Singapore and around the world.
The stories will be accompanied by interactive activities such as Wayang Kulit shadow puppets and bamboo poles, which are used for the traditional Filipino tinikling dance.
Ms Geraldine Loh, manager at the education department of the centre, says: "We hope that by hearing all these stories from around the world, children can learn about different cultures, traditions and values."
Mr Kelvin Ang, 38, a financial planner and parenting blogger, visited the Children's Season Art Garden at the Singapore Art Museum last year with his wife Sharon, 37, their sons Ashton, nine, and Ayden, seven, and daughter Alethea, three.
He says his children enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the exhibits. "Kids being kids, they just love to touch and play and explore, and for them, it was really fun and entertaining."
He plans to take his children to the National Museum for the season this year as well.
"I'll take them to see the bouncy castles. They have been to see the actual dragon slide in Toa Payoh and the elephant slide in Pasir Ris, so I think they'll enjoy the bouncy versions of them," he says.
This article was first published on May 22, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.