Thursday, 8 November 2018

Istana Open House to be held at night for the first time in 2019 as part of 150th anniversary

It will be part of 150th anniversary celebrations; Deepavali Open House draws 17,000 visitors
By Jose Hong, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2018

The public will next year be able to enter the Istana grounds at night for the first time during an Open House, as part of the 150th anniversary of the presidential residence.

The Istana Open House will be held on Oct 6 next year - a Sunday - almost to the day when the heritage site was first opened on Oct 8, 1869.

President Halimah Yacob announced this, along with other commemorative events, on the sidelines of the largest turnout for a Deepavali Istana Open House, since such data was first collated in 2011. The event drew 17,000 visitors yesterday.

"I really hope that Singaporeans will come so that they can get to experience the Istana at night," said Madam Halimah.

She added: "Istana 150 will be a useful opportunity for us to reflect on our history as a nation and the values that have guided us so far.

"The Istana has journeyed with Singaporeans over the past 150 years, becoming a key part of our collective memories and identity.

"It is important that we see this commemoration as an occasion to dig deep into our heritage as one people, because how we have arrived at where we are today will shape who we will be tomorrow."

The 150th anniversary celebrations will include an exhibition featuring the Istana's history and heritage. The exhibition will travel across Singapore to the heartland and libraries.

Multimedia tours of the Istana premises will also be produced for the first time to provide Singaporeans with a first-hand experience of exploring the Istana grounds.

A series of new books that cover the history, architecture and wildlife of the Istana grounds will be launched, as well as a series of souvenirs for the commemoration.

The Istana 150 logo was unveiled at a ceremony held during the Deepavali Istana Open House.

It was designed by School of the Arts Singapore student Charlie Chua, 18, whose idea beat more than 100 others that were submitted through the Istana 150 Logo Competition. The design, which will feature on Istana 150 memorabilia, shows a white outline of the building against a strong red background.

Mr Chua said the logo was inspired by his visit to the Istana grounds when he was three years old. He recalled playing in the garden and seeing the building's facade in the morning sun.

"With the 150th anniversary celebrations, what better way to contribute to the occasion than by designing a logo? Especially since I have fond memories of the Istana as a child," he added.

Visitors to the Deepavali Istana Open House were treated to musical performances by groups such as the CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) school concert band and Sampada's Dance Studio. They also enjoyed guided nature walks and tours of the Istana building.

The crowd stayed until heavy rain broke around 5.45pm, just before the Open House ended.

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