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Upcoming Polaroid Exhibition At National Museum Is A Fascinating Look At Instant Photography

Geek out at vintage Polaroid cameras displayed before amazing Polaroid art

Photo: National Museum of Singapore

Starting 10 November, the National Museum of Singapore launches a new exhibition on something that’s been making a huge comeback – the Polaroid.

Titled In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology, the curated exhibition traces the history of the instant photography, all the way back to Edwin Land’s invention of the world’s first instant camera in the late 1940s. We had the opportunity to preview the exhibition through a tour by the curator, and we were impressed by the in-depth exploration of the Polaroid’s lasting cultural legacy.

 Photo: National Museum of Singapore

Photo: National Museum of Singapore

Through a wide range of over 200 artefacts and artworks, the Polaroid exhibition takes you through the innovative developments of Polaroid from past to present. You get a close look at some of the most iconic conceptual models, such as the original Land Model 95, the Big Shot, and the artist-favourite Polaroid SX-70. Even the first pair of Polaroid sunglasses that Land invented in the 1930s is displayed!

You can try out a pair of Polaroid glasses yourself, too. It’s necessary for you to watch the short documentary film. We were confused when we stepped into the Polaroid Cinema room to see a white screen, until we put on a pair of the Polaroid glasses provided, and suddenly the video came to life!

If you want to bring some of that magic home with you, visit the Museum Label shop, where a range of sunglasses by Polaroid Eyewear is available with limited edition packaging.

Abridor de Caminos (the One Who Opens The Path), 1997, by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. (Photo: National Museum of Singapore)

The diversity of the artworks really showcase the great creative potential the Polaroid gave artists. They experimented by mixing photography with all sorts of other media, like painting, creating works that are astounding to behold up close. We love the collage and composite Polaroid artworks, which tell compelling stories.

Keep an eye out for works by notable photographers such as Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams, Lucas Samaras, Ellen Carey, David Hockney, and Marie Cosindas.

Andy Warhol with Polaroid Camera, 1974, by Oliviero Toscani. (Photo: Weekender)

One work you can’t miss – also because it’s so huge – is the Polaroid portrait of Hillary Clinton, displayed beside the photographer’s self-portrait.

Photo: National Museum of Singapore

Wait a second, why are the Polaroid photos so huge? Were they enlarged by the museum for display?

The amazing answer is no. How did that work, and how did it become the small coaster- or card-sized format of our Instax cameras today? Find out for yourself at the Polaroid exhibition!

Photo: National Museum of Singapore

At the final section of the Polaroid exhibition, we shift gears in an instant, into our present age of Instagram. In a vibrant room with a huge rainbow-striped carpet, the photographs of Singapore’s own influencers take centre stage. The museum had invited them to share through short video clips what “in an instant” means to them.

You can find your favourite influencers grouped into various millennial hashtags group they embody – for instance, #girlpower features Preetipls and Jamie Chua, while #fambam zooms in on twin brother photographers Yafiq and Yais Yusman.

Photo: National Museum of Singapore

The museum wants to hear from you, too! Before you leave, create a momento of your experience at the special selfie station and photo-booth, so you can share on your social media what “in an instant” means to you. You can even bring home a classic Polaroid shot, with a recommended donation of $2 to the museum’s community outreach efforts.

For those who wish to dive further into the world of instant photography, the museum will also be hosting talks by photographers, collectors and enthusiasts. You can even get hands-on at photography workshops!

Running until 31 March 2019, the Polaroid exhibition should not be missed by photography enthusiasts and fans of all things vintage.

Visit the official website for more information.

Admission for adults is $12.50 for Singapore Citizens and PRs, and $18 for non-citizens and non-PRs. Free for students and seniors who are Singapore Citizens and PRs.

National Museum of Singapore, Basement Level, Exhibition Gallery 2, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897