Celebrating International Museum Day: 5 lesser-known museums in Singapore that are well worth a visit

Celebrating International Museum Day: 5 lesser-known museums in Singapore that are well worth a visit

Did you know that Singapore is home to over 50 museums and heritage galleries, both public and private?

In the week of International Museum Day (18 May), The A List shines a spotlight on five museums in Singapore that might not have been on your radar, but are well worth a visit.

Our selection ranges from a heritage centre housed in a restored colonial bungalow, a museum shaped like an analogue camera, and a vibrant cultural centre nestled in the Central Business District.

1. Reflections at Bukit Chandu

reflections-at-bukit-chandu museums in singapore
The museum resides in a preserved residential space that is associated with the history of Bukit Chandu.

In the final stages of the Japanese invasion of Singapore during World War II, soldiers of the Malay Regiment fought one of the fiercest battles at the strategic high grounds of Bukit Chandu. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten, and their stories are preserved at the Reflections at Bukit Chandu museum.

Take a curator tour of the interpretive centre to learn more about the Malay Regiment, view pre-war photographs of the soldiers and war hero Lieutenant Adnan Saidi, and study artefacts recovered from the battle site.

Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to pre-book their entry time slots here.

2. Vintage Cameras Museum

vintage-camera-museum
The exterior of the museum is set in the form of an analogue camera, making it hard to miss

The first known commercial camera was made in 1839 ­– the Giroux daguerreotype camera made by Maison Susse Frères in France. Fast forward to today, the mobile phone is the undisputed photography device of the masses. But how had the design and production of the camera evolved in between?

At the Vintage Cameras Museum, you’ll learn about the history of cameras and photography, and how they have gone through decades of change and development since their inception. There are around 1,000 cameras on display – from replicas of the world’s biggest camera, the mammoth camera, to the recent innovation of the 11-gram camera, as well as unique pieces such as the spy, pigeon, and pistol camera.

Bonus point: the museum is just steps away from the heritage commune of Kampong Glam that is home to the vibrant Haji Lane and iconic Masjid Sultan.

Get tickets to the Vintage Cameras Museum here.

3. Straits Enclave

straits enclave museums in singapore
Straits Enclave is nestled in the heart of the heritage district of Joo Chiat. (Photo: The Straits Enclave Facebook page)

Peranakan culture plays an important role in shaping Singapore’s unique heritage. At Straits Enclave, visitors will get the chance to step back into the early 1900s Straits Golden era and learn how Peranakans lived their lives back then.

Once inside, you’ll get to immerse in the culture through exhibitions of Peranakan family heirlooms, try on a traditional Peranakan kebaya, and even get hands on with a Peranakan beading workshop. As Straits Enclave is a private museum, registration is required for admission.

Find out how to book an appointment here.

4. Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM)

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The ACM’s world-class collection of Asian art connects neighbouring cultures from a transparent point of view.

At ACM, visitors get to explore the diverse artistic cultures of Asia through its unique collection of preserved artefacts. Learn about the history of the crafts, tools, languages, and practices that could be found in regions all over Asia, and learn how they have transformed to be a part of the world we live in today.

Among its current exhibitions are Apa Khabair? – Peranakan Museum in the Making, a pop-up showcase of the key milestones from the Peranakan Museum’s past, teasing the Peranakan Museum’s reopening in the first half of 2023 following an extensive revamp. The exhibition runs until 29 May.

Plan your visit to ACM here.

5. Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC)

singapore chinese cultural centre museums in singapore
Join in the conversation and discover (or rediscover) what it means to be a Chinese Singapo人 at SCCC’s permanent exhibition.

How much do you know about Singapore’s Chinese heritage, culture, and arts? What shaped the habits of Singaporean Chinese today? Why are there so many dialects and what are their influences?

All these answers and more can be found at SCCC’s SINGAPO人 exhibition. There are six zones where visitors can learn how geography, economics and politics had a hand in crafting our present-day Chinese Singaporean identity, how the values of Chinese culture and tradition have been passed on through the centuries, alongside highly interactive displays, games, and information boards that will make the learning journey thrilling.

Admission is free, but you might want to head down early on the weekends if you’re interested in joining their guided tours.

Learn more about SCCC’s SINGAPO人 exhibition here.

(Photos: National Heritage Board, Vintage Cameras Museum, The Straits Enclave, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre)

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