Singapore is a dynamic place, steeped in history and rich in art and culture. The best way to discover all of that and more, is at one of their incredible museums. Are you a science lover? Check! Art-buff in the making? Check! Do you adore history, culture or toys? Yep, you guessed it, Singapore has got an institution to suit everyone.
Whether you’re heading out with friends or are going solo, Singapore’s museums are the perfect place to spend your day–these are our top picks.
National Museum Singapore
Singapore’s oldest museum opened back in 1849 and is housed in a stunning neo-classical building on the edge of Fort Canning Park. Open seven days a week, you can explore the permanent Singapore History Gallery or check out any of the museum’s amazing array of immersive experiences and pop-up exhibitions. If you decide to stay a while, head to Flutes, the museum’s smart-casual eatery serving European dishes with a modern twist. Trust us, you’ll happily lose hours here.
Changi Chapel And Museum
The Changi Chapel and Museum opened its doors in February 2001—a date that coincides with the anniversary of Singapore's fall to the Imperial Japanese Army. Since then, the museum has given visitors an insight to World War II and how the tumultuous era affected Singapore. The museum recently underwent a major facelift and is now ready to welcome visitors with more stories from the past. Inside, you’ll find artefacts that tell the story of the prisoners of war and civilians interned at Changi prison camp during the Japanese occupation. The museum, which is partly housed in the old barracks, also features the original entrance gate and wall of the Changi Gaol.
Asian Civilisations Museum
Housed in a historical building on the edge of the Singapore River, the Asian Civilisations Museum celebrates the nation’s melting pot of cultures. Here you’ll go on a journey of the last two centuries, starting out with the Tang Shipwreck in the 9th century, displaying more than 1,000 pieces of ceramics, gold and silver recovered from it. On level two, you’ll explore galleries dedicated to faith and belief systems that permeated across Asia. And on the third floor, you’ll be wowed by the incredible collection of textiles, jewellery and ceramics from all across Asia.
Indian Heritage Centre
Escape to Little India (which is a stone’s throw away from the city centre) to the Indian Heritage Centre—a magnificent building that seamlessly blends modern architecture with the old. Here you’ll learn about the rich history of Indian Singaporeans, discovering their vibrant food, culture, fashion, music and religious practices. There are five permanent exhibitions to check outspread across four floors. The centre is also the first museum in Asia to use SMARTIFY, which allows visitors to discover the stories behind over 500 artefacts. Post-visit, be sure to meander around Little India, exploring the colourful shops and restaurants that line the streets surrounding the Indian Heritage Centre.
Malay Heritage Centre
Want to learn more about Malay culture and its history in Singapore? Then the Malay Heritage Centre is for you. The museum has a serious wow-factor, and sits within the grounds of Istana Kampong Gelam, which was originally built in 1840 by Sultan Ali, the son of Sultan Hussein Shah. Inside the glamorous building you’ll find an array of ever-changing exhibits, programmes and activities that honour the history of Singapore’s Malay people, as well as providing a place for present-day expression.
National Gallery Singapore
Singapore’s largest museum of modern Singapore and Southeast Asian art is an absolute must do for those looking for a culture hit. Housed within City Hall and the former Supreme Court, the iconic buildings span a whopping 64,000 sqm. Inside you’ll find more than 9,000 jaw-dropping pieces from the likes of Singaporean creatives and internationally renowned artists, spanning the 19th century to present. The National Gallery is also home to a bunch of epic eateries, but top of the list is three Michelin Star French restaurant Odette.
A hub of art, imagination and creativity, the ArtScience Museum is a magical place to let your mind soar through the various exhibitions and immersive experiences. Located at Marina Bay Sands, this visually stunning building encompasses 21 gallery spaces, spanning nearly 5,000 sqm. Previous large-scale exhibitions here include Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali, as well as gram-worthy pop-ups like Floating Utopias: The Power Of Inflatable Art, Wonderland (based on Lewis Carroll’s timeless stories) and Futures Imagined, a journey into the future 200 years beyond.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
With over 2,000 natural history specimens on display, at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum you’ll take a trip back to the beginning of time. Explore their extensive collection of plants and animals (including dinosaurs) across 15 thematic zones. Wander the halls, gazing at incredible skeletons, replicas and fossils while being immersed in a rainforest-like soundscape (birds chirping included). The museum's Heritage Gallery is also a must-see, featuring collections from the late 1800s, including a Leatherback Turtle from 1883. They regularly feature pop-up immersive experiences too, like Body Snatchers, which explores nature’s zombies and vampires. Intrigued? Pay them a visit today.
MINT Museum of Toys
We weren’t joking when we said Singapore has a museum for everything, case in point—the MINT Museum of Toys. This awesome museum is one for kids and adults alike, with their extensive collection of toys and memorabilia from 40 different countries sure to spark delight. Unleash your inner child as you marvel at a whopping 8,500 toys and items, hailing from the 1840s to the 1980s. Think: the only known complete Batman robot, vintage signs and even Beatles memorabilia. There are four levels to the museum for you to explore; Outerspace, Characters, Childhood Favourites and Collectables. Plus the museum boasts a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the city perfect for a post-museum tipple.
From art and science to culture and history, there’s so much wonder and history to discover at Singapore’s museums. For more info, head to Singapore Tourism.
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