The Changi Museum and Chapel commemorates the WWII Allied POWs who suffered horrific treatment at the hands of the invading Japanese. The museum includes replicas of the famous Changi Murals painted by POW Stanley Warren in the old POW hospital and a replica of the original Changi Chapel. At time of research the museum and the chapel were closed to the public for major renovations. Both are scheduled to reopen in late 2020.
The museum was shifted from its original Changi prison site in 2001 when Singapore Prisons reclaimed the land to expand its operations. Former POWs, veterans and historians will feel the loss of the actual site most keenly, but to the architects' credit, the understated design of the current building is well suited to its dual role as a shrine and history museum.
The main exhibition recounts stories of suffering, resilience and hope through photographs, letters, drawings and other wartime artefacts. The tattered shoes of a civilian prisoner prove unexpectedly moving, while a tiny Morse-code transmitter hidden in a matchbox is testament to the prisoners' ingenuity. Resourcefulness and determination are equally present in the rotating replica British and Australian patchwork quilts. Created by women internees for the use of men in the military hospitals, the patches sometimes carried secret codes embedded in the motifs, with messages only loved ones could decode. The museum's small art gallery features the work of several wartime artists, offering intimate glimpses into the brutality, suffering and mood of the time.
Tucked into the wall behind the altar in the replica chapel – its cross made of ammunition casings – are mementoes left by visitors, from white crosses and red poppies to handwritten notes and colourful paper cranes.
The museum's audioguide is a worthy investment.
The easiest and fastest way to get here is by taxi ($S25).