Museums and galleries of Singapore

Theatres on the Bay art centre's space age design

Theatres on the Bay art centre's space age design

When the sheer number of shopping malls and street markets in Singapore give you a serious case of retail overload, it is time to delve into some of the island’s diverse art, history and culture. Singapore has a great range of inspiring museums and galleries showcasing astounding Asian art, its unique ‘Peranakan’ culture and many places dedicated to wartime Singapore. In addition, youngsters can get interactive at science and discovery centres or explore the lovable exhibits at the always popular Toy Museum.

There is something for every age group and interest and the perfect idea for a rainy day. Some of Singapore’s best cultural venues offer free entrance and there is always a diverse range of temporary exhibitions and events, so even a second visit will offer something fresh and new to discover.

Singapore Discovery Centre

One especially for the kids, this remarkable place is a cross between a museum, a science centre and interactive theme park.

There is a 3D theatre to watch a super fast potted history of Singapore on celluloid, or you can see for yourself at first hand what military service in Singapore is all about. There are many weird and wonderful high-tech gadgets to try out such as laser pistols, an interactive robot and computerised war games.

And it is not just youngsters that will get a thrill from this Singapore museum, it is also great fun for big kids too so watch out not to hog all the fun from smaller museum patrons! (Open: 09:00-18:00 (Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday, except Public Holiday & School Term Holiday); Admission: adult/SGD$10, children (3-12 yrs old)/SGD$6, family (2 Adults & 2 Children)/SGD$28 (Admission charges may vary during special exhibitions); 510 Upper Jurong Road, tel: +65 6792 6188, fax: +65 6792 1233, email: info@sdc.com.sg, website: www.sdc.com.sg).

Facade of the National Museum

Facade of the National Museum

National Museum of Singapore

This is the mother of all museums in Singapore. It is the largest and has the most detailed displays of Singaporean history dating back to the 14th century. Check out the four ‘living galleries’ which highlight local culture through food, fashion, photography and film. There are also lots of insightful audio visual displays and interactive exhibits. Plan for three hours or more to take it all in. (Open: Singapore History Gallery: 10:00-18:00 (last admission at 17:30, daily), Singapore Living Galleries: 10:00-20:00 (last admission at 18:30, free admission from 18:00-20:00, daily); Admission: free (charge for some exhibitions); 93 Stamford Road, tel: +65 6332 3659, email: nhb_nm_corpcomms@nhb.gov.sg, website: www.nationalmuseum.sg).

Asian Civilisations Museum

Set in a 19th century courthouse, it is an attractive colonial building befitting Singapore’s most exuberant art collection. There are ten thematic galleries showcasing artefacts and treasures spanning 5,000 years from all over Asia and especially the Chinese mainland. (Open: 13:00–19:00 (Monday), 09:00–19:00 (Tuesday-Sunday), 09:00-21:00 (Friday). Admission: adult/SGD$8 (Admission charges may vary during special exhibitions); 1 Empress Place, tel: +65 6332 7798, fax: +65 6883 0732, email: nhb_acm_vs@nhb.gov.sg, website: www.acm.org.sg).

Singapore Art Museum

Known affectionately as SAM, this huge art gallery is located in a former Catholic boys’ school, housing one of the regions finest collections of predominantly modern art. There are around 10,000 pieces ranging from pop art paintings, sculpture, sketches, ceramics, video installations and photography. Any art lover will find it fresh and stimulating, with a diverse range of art from east and west plus a smattering of international works from farther afield. (Open: 10:00-19:00 (Monday–Sunday), 10:00-21:00 (Friday); Admission: adult/SGD$10, students and senior citizens aged 60/SGD$5; 71 Bras Basah Road, MRT City Hall, tel: +65 6332 3222, email: nhb_sam_programs@nhb.gov.sg, website: www.singaporeartmuseum.sg).

POW chapel at Changi Prison

POW chapel at Changi Prison

Changi Museum

The notorious Changi prison was ‘home’ for allied POWs during the Japanese occupation of the island. It has been rebuilt to house an evocative photo gallery and soldiers’ letters detailing the harrowing conditions. Although this is not the original building, it still has a forbidding atmosphere and is an intriguing place to visit for any military history buff. (Open: 09:30-17:00 (last admission at 16:30, daily); Admission: free; 1,000 Upper Changi Road North, tel: +65 6214 2451, fax: +65 6214 1179, email: changimuseum@singnet.com.sg, website: www.changimuseum.sg).

Peranakan Museum

Visitors will learn about the unique culture, history and art of Singapore’s first pioneering immigrants. Displaying antique clothing, household implements and handicrafts, it offers a vivid picture of everyday life in colonial times. There are interactive displays and evocative photos highlighting the many curious daily rituals and customs of the day. (Open: 13:00-19:00 (Monday), 09:00–19:00 (Tuesday-Sunday), 09:00–21:00 (Friday); Admission: adult/SGD$6, concession/SGD$3, family/SGD$20; 39 Armenia Streettel: +65 6332 7591, +65 6332 3275, fax: +65 6883 0732, email: nhb_pm_vs@nhb.gov.sg, website: www.peranakanmuseum.sg).

Malay Heritage Centre

Located in a former Sultan’s palace, this cultural centre and museum tells the story of medieval Singapore, the rise of Islam in the Malaysian peninsular and the colourful history of the Bugis seafaring people from Indonesia who first settled here. There is a wealth of art relating to contemporary Malay heritage and historical interactive displays that kids should find quite captivating. (Open: Malay Heritage Centre Museum: 10:00-18:00 (Tuesday-Sunday, last admission 17:30), closed Monday, Malay Heritage Centre Compound: 08:00-16:00 (Tuesday-Sunday), 08:00-22:00 (Friday-Saturday), closed Monday; Admission: adult/SGD$4, students/SGD$2, Seniors (60 years old and above)/SGD$3; 85 Sultan Gate, tel: +65 6391 0450, fax: +65 6299 4316, email: NHB_MHC@nhb.gov.sg, website: www.malayheritage.org.sg).

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