Four Amazing Cultural Museums in Singapore

by Bert Maxwell / Jun 20, 2013 /
Bert Maxwell's picture

Are you a museum buff? Me, too. Wherever I travel, I always try to discover local art, culture, and history. If you’re heading to Singapore (or just have a layover there), you should definitely explore these four incredible museums, all under the auspices of Singapore’s National Heritage Board.  It’s a glimpse into thousands of years of history, through creativity in its myriad forms.

 

You’ll learn much from these museums, about the incredible diversity in Singapore, and the cultures and traditions that have influenced life today. Don’t think it’s all stodgy, though – these museums, like Singapore, are completely modern. From contemporary art to family activities to quiet reflection to colorful night exhibits, there is something for everyone.

 

1. National Museum.  The country’s oldest museum was founded in 1887 – but don’t expect dry history! The National Museum is quite modern, using technology to educate and entertain. The collections include the Singapore Stone.  You can also explore world heritage and the melting pot that is Singapore. I’m interested in seeing the Living Galleries on Film and Food! 

 

National Museum, Singapore

photo courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons:  flickr.com/photos/31085717@N00/

 

2. Singapore Art Museum. The Singapore Art Museum has one of the world’s largest collections of local and regional modern and contemporary art. Housed in a restored 19th century mission school (and an extension building, SAM at 8Q), the museum focuses on contemporary art in Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Asia.  ). Here, you can see painting and sculpture, of course, but also contemporary art mediums, such as film, video, performance and sound art, and more.  You can view some of the collections online, with their Classic Contemporary Gallery.  

 

Singapore Art Museum

photo courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/jorgecancela

 

3. Asian Civilizations Museum. Galleries are arranged by geographic area (China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Islamic world). Here, you can learn about the history and culture of the ancestral cultures of Singapore. There are over 1300 artifacts in 11 galleries, including some inherited from the Southeast Asian ethnographic collection from the Raffles Museum.  View this online photo gallery from the exhibit Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds (how cool is that?!). 

 

Asian Civilizations Museum

photo courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons:  flickr.com/photos/yeowatzup/

 

4. Peranakan Museum. Peranakan is a word that denotes descendants of Chinese immigrants to Indonesia. Now, it denotes ethnic Chinese, as well as other Peranakan communities. This ethnographic museum explores all aspects of Peranakan life, from cradle to grave. You can see exhibits on the 12-day Peranakan wedding, food, feasting, and history. There are also activities, cultural demonstrations, and classes (pottery!).  Head online to view the Sarong Kebaya Exhibit, which illustrates the fashion of Peranakan women. 

 

Realm of the Immortal, Paranakan Museum, Singapore

Realm of the Immortal II.  Photo courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/z_wenjie/

 

 

As you can see, the museum scene in Singapore is world-class and is definitely worth checking out while in the country, even if you are only passing through on your way to another destination. Travelers from all over the world visit the museums in Singapore annually because they do such a great job of showing the country's unique history. Additionally, these museums give insight into the history of other Asian countries and their relationships with Singapore. Those from Australia might take particular interest in a Singapore vacation, due to the relatively short distance between the two locations.