For The First Time In Over A Century, Get To See Historic Model Pagodas at Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum

    For the first time in over a century, a full set of 84 hand-carved model pagodas will be on display together at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore. This special exhibition, “Pagoda Odyssey 1915: From Shanghai to San Francisco,” opens on Friday, 31 May 2024, and showcases the journey of these models from Shanghai’s Tushanwan Workshop to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

    Exhibition Highlights

    The exhibition is spread across four sections in ACM’s Special Exhibitions Gallery, with additional pieces in other museum spaces. Visitors will see 104 figurines that depict the blend of tradition and modernity in early 20th-century China, highlighting the cultural and trade exchanges between Shanghai and San Francisco.

    Curator’s Insight


    Mr. Clement Onn, Principal Curator at ACM, stated, “These handcrafted pagodas symbolize a cultural exchange between East and West that transcends time. This exhibition underscores ACM’s mission to connect Asia with the world and to celebrate Asian craftsmanship. We are proud to display these detailed works of art, allowing visitors to appreciate their beauty and the architectural heritage of China.”

    Chinese Architectural Legacy


    The models, crafted from teakwood, represent actual Chinese pagodas, some of which no longer exist. Created at the Tushanwan Workshop in Shanghai, founded in 1864 by Jesuit missionaries, these models are a testament to China’s rich history of fine craftsmanship. Notable alumni from the workshop include renowned artists like Xu Yongqing and Zhang Chongren.

    Cultural Exchange


    The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition celebrated both the Panama Canal’s completion and San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake, attracting over 18 million visitors. China’s participation, featuring the Tushanwan pagodas, showcased its cultural and technological advancements, presenting many visitors with their first glimpse of Chinese architectural heritage.


    Local Architectural Parallels

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    Complementing the exhibition is “Towers of Faith,” a display of photographs and drawings of Singapore’s religious architecture by local photographer Darren Soh. This display creates a dialogue between historical and contemporary religious buildings in Singapore.

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    Interactive Experiences


    The exhibition also features “Journey into the Pagoda,” a virtual reality experience developed with Microsoft and Cognizant, allowing visitors to explore the Pagoda of Six Harmonies in Hangzhou.

    Screenshot from the Journey into the Pagoda. Image courtesy of Asian Civilisations Museum

    Additionally, visitors can interact with 3D-printed replicas of the pagodas and traditional Chinese wooden brackets.

    “Pagoda Odyssey 1915: From Shanghai to San Francisco” runs from 31 May 2024 to 1 June 2025 at ACM. Admission charges apply. For more information, visit


    Photos taken with Honor Magic6 Pro

    Wilber Suen
    Wilber Suen
    Embrace happiness! I have a passion for savoring delectable cuisines, unwinding in the soothing ambiance of jazz and piano bars, indulging in rejuvenating aromatherapy spa sessions, and staying up-to-date with the latest in technology and cars. My heart beats for all things Thai, as evidenced by my role in running, a Thailand-focused platform. Whether you spot me in Singapore or Thailand, be sure to say Hi and share a moment of joy!

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