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There are many categories of National Museums, other museums and heritage institutions in Singapore. Depending on who you ask, it is unclear which ones falls into which categories. But you don’t care do you. We thought so. Here again is Tribe’s very own musings and about the local museum scene. This one is ordered with our favourites on top.
1. PERANAKAN MUSEUM is our top must-visit museum when you visit Singapore. It showcases the culture of a distinct group called the Peranakans, which means “locally-born” in the Malay language, that have a massive influence on not just Singapore, but Southeast Asia’s way of life. The intermarriages between Chinese traders and local women brought about many customary traditions of weddings, new year preparations, death rites, familial roles, ancestor worship, housing architecture, food, fashion, etc. Up till today, many of the traditions have been passed down and some of the customary beliefs and practices are seeped into Singaporean’s way of life.
Address: 39 Armenian Street.
Opening Hours: Monday – 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm/ Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30 am to 7:00 pm (to 9:00 pm on Fridays).
Admission Fee: S$6. On Fridays, S$3.
2. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE This is the grand daddy of them all. Not just in scope and coverage but size as well. No where near the size of Prado in Madrid or Lourve in Paris, or Smithsonian (world’s largest) and The Met, but Singapore’s largest. In fact, get use to it. When you hear largest and tallest (our highest peak is 163 metres!) in Singapore, temper your expectations. Still, we love this museum, especially the History Gallery. Magnificently curated, it is EASY to lose track of time with the audio guides that give an accurate depiction of Singapore through the years.
Address: 93 Stamford Road
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, daily.
Admission Fee: S$10.
3. SINGAPORE CITY GALLERY Is this even a museum? Maybe maybe not. But this is a hidden gem amongst the many things to do in Singapore. For tourists and locals alike, a fantastic place to get acquainted with Singapore’s developmental story from the 1960s onwards. Be prepared to spend about two to three hours to learn about Singapore’s struggle with its lack of size and the ingenious ways the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) build upwards (high rise buildings), outwards (land reclamation and downwards (underground transport networks, sewerage systems and storage).
You’ll fall in love with this place if you are the archi or design type or love urban and space planning. Overall, an educational enriching experience that illuminates the amount of long-term planning involved in Singapore being where it is today. Together with the highly interactive touch-screen do-it-yourself exhibits and the hard to miss 11 metre x 11 metre model of downtown Singapore, this is one of the best must-dos to learn about the Singapore story.
Did we mention it’s downtown, fully air-conditioned, next to only THE best hawker centre in Singapore and free entry for all?
Address: 45 Maxwell Road. URA Centre Levels 1- 3
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Monday to Saturday).
Admission Fee: Free
CHANGI CHAPEL and MUSEUM War history buffs, this one’s for you. Located in Changi, once the site of many prisoner-of-war camps during the Japanese Occupation, this museum chronicles many of the letters, artefacts, personal belongings of POWs, paintings and murals done by actual POWs. Also, there is an actual size of a cell block marked out on the floor to show the extreme conditions the prisoners lived in.
Downside of Changi Museum is that this is a very small museum, meaning you can be done in 75 minutes. Also, it is not the most central of places to get to. So long commute (35 minutes by taxi from central downtown Singapore) for a small museum. 35 minutes is long by Singapore standards! Also, in our opinion, this is one of those museums best to go with a specialised guide who knows their war stuff.
Address: 1000 Upper Changi Road North
Opening Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily. Last admission at 4:30 pm (including Sundays and Public Holidays)
5. ASIAN CIVILISATION MUSEUM (ACM) showcases the collection of material cultures of the different origins of the forefathers of Singapore. For the past 200 years, our early immigrants from Southeast Asia, South and West Asia came to Singapore looking for better life. ACM houses 11 galleries with 1300 artefacts. A beautiful location beside the Singapore River, so a great way to spend two to three hours followed by drinks by the river.
Address: 1 Empress Place
Opening Hours: Monday 1 pm – 7 pm. Tuesday to Sunday 9 am – 7 pm (extended to 9 pm on Fridays)