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! (website: www.sdc.com.sg)
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. (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. (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. (website: www.singaporeartmuseum.sg).
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. (website: www.changimuseum.sg).
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. (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.