SINGAPORE – The Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express pop-up attraction will roll into Gardens by The Bay in Singapore this December 2020, following the 2014 exhibition in Paris. Singapore has been chosen as the first destination outside of France to kickstart a series of showcases that unveils a fairy-tale universe related to travel, culture and gastronomy.
At a press conference held in Paris, Yahoo Lifestyle SEA learned that Jack Lang, President of Arab World Institute (IMA) had bounced the idea of organising the exhibition in Singapore, together with Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong: “Some weeks after the end of the exhibition in Paris, in 2014, I was invited by Wong (to organise). Even then, we had already imagined the possibility of organising such an exhibition in Gardens By The Bay when I visited the amazing Gardens. But it seemed to be very difficult, perhaps impossible.”
He added: “Today, despite the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible. It is really incredible news! It may be the only international project of this size nowadays in the world.”
Putting together this pop-up was no easy feat as hundreds of tonnes of artworks had to be transported by sea within five months. “Putting the pop-up attraction in place is a feat in itself as the artworks are classified as historical monuments. Weighing hundreds of tonnes, sailing the seas on such a long journey was unheard of, much less having to do so with additional safety measures in place,” Lang said.
Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express will present some of the most extraordinary objects and documents to showcase centuries-old history that retraces the legacy of the train, allowing visitors to discover events that transformed the world.
Fans of author Agatha Christie may even remember one of her famous books written in 1934, Murder On The Orient Express, in which she created the myth surrounding the locomotive. Guillaume de Saint Lager, Vice President and Executive Director of Orient Express shared with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA that he acknowledged the author’s works, and (the pop-up) will touch on the mythical dimensions of the Orient Express, thanks to her: “She was the most famous author who wrote about the train but, many other authors and writers have written beautiful things about the train, making it one of the most well-known luxury trains in the world today.”
“With this pop-up, we will try to understand both the history and the myth of The Orient Express. What was the real history of Orient Express? As a client travelling on board the Orient Express; what passengers experienced and felt; how they lived with all these luxuries; and the extraordinary gastronomy on board the train?” Lager added.
What fans can expect at the pop-up attraction are 300 pieces of loaned artworks coming from France and Europe, including an 80-tonne Pullman car. Another interesting fun fact is that the ship carrying a national historical treasure, the locomotive and two cars, left Antwerp port for Singapore, which took about 45 days of travel amid the pandemic.
Lydie Blandeau, the founder and producer of Visionairs In Art did not mince her words when she shared it was “extremely hard work” to move the trains: “To get the trains to the port in Belgium, we had to create an exceptional convoy by rails, truck, and river. This shipping includes at least four countries, so I chose the best there is.”
Blandeu credits her team for their effort: “Alexandre from Octra, a French company, and their engineers have many years of experience behind them in transporting nuclear goods. I rely on them to safely transport the trains. Patrick from Germany, now based in Bangkok, brought the metro into Thailand and Myanmar. The famous Karamjeet based in Singapore, I call him “Mister Mission Impossible”, well known around the world on how to execute the most complex shipping, has accepted this new challenge to bring an end to the full operation.”
Public ticket sales for the pop-up attraction of Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express will open from end-September on official ticketing partner Sistic. The pop-up ticket retails at S$25.