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In 1988, the idea of building a museum to showcase the history of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) was first mooted. This idea later evolved into the concept of the Singapore Discovery Centre (SDC).

However, SDC is not merely an educational tool for the SAF. It is a platform – one that provides plenty for Singaporeans to think about and helps them prepare for future challenges.

In October 1992, MINDEF approved the setting up of SDC at the cost of S$70 million.

Located on the grounds of the SAFTI Military Institute, Mitchell Giurgola & Throp Architects developed the architectural design for SDC. Previous buildings by these architects include the SAFTI Military Institute and the Australian Parliament House.

SDC was officially opened by then President Ong Teng Cheong on 23 November 1996.

In 1999, SDC started a review of the Centre to change from a historical to an issue-based orientation.

In 2001, Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) was selected as the design consultants for the project. RAA are planners, designers and producers of museum exhibitions, visitor centres and educational environments. They are behind many famous institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia.

A presentation was made to the Singapore Totalisator Board in 2002 and a grant of S$25 million was approved. Redevelopment work started in December 2002.

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