In 1996, Singapore’s National Heritage Board (NHB) launched its Museum Roundtable, an initiative encompassing more than 60 cultural institutions that aims to encourage museum-going among local audiences. And for the past 8 years, amid its many other outreach programs, the governmental department has landed on a key and effective activation, the Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign, timed each year to coincide with the biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar.

This year, the 8th annual campaign by the NHB includes 35 participating local museums and heritage venues, including the ArtScience Museum, Fort Siloso, National Gallery Singapore, and the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, to capitalize on the holiday season, while promoting the island’s cultural attractions.

What happened

NHB Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign

This year’s Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign includes 35 red packet designs, one for each participating institution. Image: National Heritage Board

Between January 7 to February 4, museum visitors can collect unique Year of the Tiger-themed red packets or hongbao (红包), traditional red envelopes associated with the Lunar New Year. There are 35 hongbao designs, each bearing visual elements of the respective participating institutions, from the ArtScience Museum’s distinctive palm-shaped building to the Gem Museum’s sparkling minerals. A limited edition collector’s album gathering and displaying all 35 red packets is also available for purchase at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall.

Accompanying the activation are online giveaways on the NHB’s I Love Museums Facebook page, asking participants to share exhibitions or artifacts that they found particularly interesting during their museum visits.

Why it matters

An online giveaway encourages visitors to share their museum experiences to win a collector’s album containing all 35 hongbao designs. Image: I Love Museums on Facebook

Even without the shadow of the pandemic, the NHB’s Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign represents a winning audience strategy with which to fuel cultural participation. Besides leveraging an islandwide holiday, the offline activation uses a gamified framework (with the aim of collecting all red packet designs) to drive museum attendance and highlight lesser-known galleries. That the campaign is in its 8th iteration signals its ongoing popularity and success.

Like last year’s campaign, the 2022 program arrives at a time of financial crunch for Singapore. While the country’s economy did recover by approximately 7 percent in early 2021, that number will reportedly drop to between 3 and 5 percent in 2022 with the emergence of the Omicron variant. And while certain social restrictions still remain, the NHB’s activation might play a part in stimulating both the local economy and cultural interest.

What the NHB says

“Through this campaign, we hope to encourage more members of the public to visit participating museums, promote a traditional custom associated with the Lunar New Year, and bring festive cheer to Singaporeans.” — Alvin Tan, Deputy Chief Executive of Policy & Community, NHB


Jing Culture & Commerce