Showcase of S'pore history marred by typos, errors

Showcase of S'pore history marred by typos, errors
New exhibition by National Museum of Singapore, SINGAPURA: 700 Years, an exhibition that brings seven centuries of Singapore's history to life.

The newest exhibition at the Singapore National Museum is supposed to showcase Singapore's long history, replete with facts and figures drawn from the island's past 700 years.

But typos, naming inaccuracies and style inconsistencies have been found in the exhibition, Singapura: 700 years.

The mistakes include Perak's Slim River appearing as "Grim River"; the Singapore Symphony Orchestra as "Singapore Symphonic Orchestra"; and a map on some Asian colonies that became independent between 1946 and 1950 running as "1946 to 1960", on display panels.

These dozen or so errors were spotted by Mr R.M. Arblaster, 83, the former general manager of automotive firm Wearne Brothers.

Mr Arblaster, who moved here in 1952 from Britain, said he was disappointed with the presentation of events spanning the 1300s to 1975. The Briton, a former Singapore citizen, said the inconsistencies gave the "impression that the exhibition had been hastily put together".

The 1,500 sq m interim showcase will run till Aug 10 next year. Targeted at students and families, it is a condensed version of the 2,200 sq m Singapore History Gallery, which is undergoing a revamp, along with the museum's other galleries.

The revamp is expected to be completed later next year.

But when Mr Arblaster visited the display on Oct 31, he found several mistakes in the exhibit labels. He asked why display text at Singapura: 700 Years had not been proofread, especially since many visitors are expected to be impressionable young children. He said: "Think of the school children who will pick up incorrect spelling and factual inaccuracies.

"If you write a book, a sensible author would employ a proofreader to go through it, correct such errors and tidy the text up. I was left with the impression that no such work had been carried out."

He informed the museum the same day he visited. Days later, he also dropped an e-mail listing the mistakes to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

The museum invited him for a walk-through on Nov 18, where he gave his feedback.

Other mistakes he highlighted included the use of the modern name "Guangdong" instead of the historical name "Canton", which was inconsistent with other old, historical naming references used in a section on immigrants from Southern China.

There was also a mix of British and American spelling at the exhibition. For instance, the word "behaviour" was spelt without the letter "u", which is the American style, whereas the rest of the exhibition was British in style.

The errors were rectified by the museum as of last Friday.

It said that the name of the river and the year 1950 had been accurately represented in its original documents. However, typos occurred during the production process which it had "unfortunately overlooked".

Its director, Ms Angelita Teo, said she welcomes other public input on Singapura: 700 Years. "The feedback will be useful as we work on our revamp and will help us to better present Singapore's history for the people," she said.

This article was first published on Dec 1, 2014.
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