Museum Hopping in Singapore
PHOTOS BY: John Heng
Museum Hopping in Singapore 22. August 2020, Photos by John Heng
Get a better understanding of the culture unique to the Southeast Asia region as you spend a day exploring the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum.

Asian Civilisations Museum

To get a broader perspective of the region’s culture, head to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM). The ACM is dedicated to the heritage of Asia, with the museum’s collection permanently showcased in five of eleven galleries, namely the Singapore River, Southeast Asia, West Asia, China and South Asia Galleries.

In this museum, exhibitions are curated and designed to foster a better appreciation of the rich cultures that make up Singapore’s multi-ethnic society. You’ll learn about ancient kingdoms, discover ethnic tribes and encounter some of the major religions.

In the West Asia Gallery, there’s even a space dedicated to the mosque. It’s constructed in such a way that you’ll be facing toward Mecca when you enter—this is the direction of prayer for Muslims. Take a moment to imagine what it’s like to be in this place of worship as a series of projections transport you to different mosques around the world.

A bronze sculpture of a coolie by the Singapore River recalls the nation’s past as a busy trading port.

Interactive ExplorAsian zones for children are incorporated in the galleries.

Peranakan Museum

The Peranakan culture is one that is unique to Southeast Asia, and you’ll be glad to know that one of the world’s most comprehensive collection is housed at the Peranakan Museum. In ancient times, from as early as the 14th century, foreign merchants came to Southeast Asia for lucrative trades.

Some of them decided to remain here to marry local women, and the descendants of these interracial marriages are referred to as Peranakans.
The Peranakan culture is a unique hybrid, and the elaborate customs are covered in this museum. In the Wedding Gallery, you’ll find out why the traditional wedding takes place over 12 days, and come to realise the significance of the many rituals practised. Peranakan women were expected to master textile arts in preparation for marriage, and the
Nonya Gallery features much of such intricate beadwork and embroidery.

Yet another visual treat lies in wait at the Food and Feasting Gallery, where you’ll find exquisite porcelain dinnerware that was typically reserved for special occasions and passed down as family heirlooms. These are decorated both on the interior as well as exterior surfaces, and similar vessels are sometimes used to serve mouth-watering cuisine at Peranakan restaurants today.

By now you would probably have worked up an appetite for dinner, and if you’re looking to sample some Peranakan dishes, there’s always the conveniently located True Blue Cuisine just a short distance away. Indulging in the savoury aromas and flavours that still live on today will round up your museum visit with a truly immersive experience.

Traditional dinnerware in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Kebayas on display offer a glimpse into the iconic nonya fashion.

Ornate decorative pieces often feature auspicious motifs and are sometimes encrusted with gems.

H Directory

Asian Civilisations Museum

1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Tel +65 6332 2982
Opening hours:
1pm to 7pm (Mon)
9am to 7pm (Tue to Sun, open till 9pm on Fri)

Peranakan Museum

39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941
Tel +65 6332 7591/3275
Opening hours:
1pm to 7pm (Mon)
9am to 7pm (Tue to Sun, open till 9pm on Fri),
Operating hours  may differ Due to COVID-19, visit website for further details.