Travel Tales: Saturday in Singapore – Culture Tour and Museum Hopping

On my earlier posts last December 2016, our Singapore itineraries were planned according to the places of interests around Singapore. Due to my limited time during my first visit, I wasn’t able to drop by in their museums. My good friend Yani, recommended it to me during our 2011 meet-up. As much as I love history, I also loved seeing artworks and visiting museums. In some of our local trips, it is impossible not to visit one museum around the area. I always love the history behind the pictures and artworks. I wanted to understand the sculpture and media being used and what purpose or meaning it serves. On our trip to Singapore, I did request to my husband that we allocate one whole day of exploring Singapore museums. There are six National museums in Singapore and supported by Singapore Government. These are:

  • 8Q SAM
  • Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
  • National Gallery of Singapore
  • National Museum of Singapore
  • Asian Civilization Museum (ACM)
  • Peranakan Museum

Aside from these major museums, there are other museums across different locations in Singapore and not to mention the heritage centers which also features the culture and local people of Singapore. To be honest, I thought that allocating one whole day for the museum hopping, we would be able to cover the six National Museums. I guess I underestimate the time will be spent because one whole day is not enough to explore and see the interesting artworks and learning about the diverse and inspiring culture of Singapore. We were only able to cover half of national museums which are:

  1. Singapore Art Museum (SAM) – Singapore Art Museum is a contemporary art museum which showcases on arts in Singapore and neighboring Southeast Asia countries. When we visited the museum, we were also able to experience and see the Singapore Biennale 2016. The Singapore Biennale features the contemporary artworks of more than 60 artists across Southeast Asia. What is also a revelation to us during our visit is that they featured some of the Filipino artists and their works. The exhibition runs from Oct 2016 to February 2017. The Singapore Biennale 2016 is titled “Atlas of Mirrors” and the fifth exhibition to date. We were lucky to visit the exhibition and happy to see our very own local artists thriving in the international scene. Our tour in Singapore Art Museum was one of the kind because it is not the usual gallery with paintings and artworks hung on the museum. Artists used different media to convey their message and story behind each contemporary artwork. Artists used music, space, local materials, stones, paints and lights to tell stories. In short, you need to expand and explore your thoughts to understand the artworks being featured in each room. I also learned that the Singapore Biennale is also collaborates with our fellow Filipino art curators. One of the highlight in our visit was seeing an artwork produced by a fellow Filipino in the museum’s courtyard. Singapore Art Museum is also accessible via MRT because it is location right next to Bras Basah station. Plus it is near with Food Republic and Tim Ho Wan restaurant in a few minutes’ walk. You can start your museum tour with SAM because it is near MRT and accessible to different food centers.
  1. Peranakan Museum – Peranakan Museum is one of a kind museum. This museum features wide collection of artifacts which depicts Peranakan culture. Peranakans are Chinese immigrants who settled on Malay Archipelago which includes Singapore. The artifacts and wares inside the museum are richly influenced and depict the interesting culture and traditions of Peranakan settlers. The building is a sister museum of Asian Civilization Museum which showcases everything about the diverse culture of South East Asian countries. The museum also boasts the world’s most distinctive collection of Peranakan culture. The building is located in Armenian Street near Singapore’s City Hall and you will pass by interesting houses along the way (which I took a picture).
  1. National Museum of Singapore – The National Museum of Singapore is one of the oldest museums in Singapore. It was known before as Singapore History Museum. Of the three museums we visited, this is where we spend our late afternoon exploring and learning about how Singapore started and their journey on being one of the most progressive countries in the world. Since I am an avid reader of world histories, I am quite amazed how Singapore was established. I am also happy to learn more about their beloved leader Lee Kwan Yew and his famous speeches which made me appreciate more of what Singapore is today. Hubby and I scour the different galleries that depict the start; the struggles and their journey towards success of making a little nation become one of the richest countries in the world. I also loved one of the galleries dedicated on the education and childhood experiences of Singaporean kids because they highly valued education and believes in equipping quality education means success of their people. At an early age, Singaporean kids are taught to read early and appreciate books. Teachers and parents encourage children to read. It made an impact to me to encourage my son to love and appreciate reading. I love the façade of the building and it was sitting right beside the Fort Canning Park in Stamford Street. Hubby and I planned to drop by at the park but due to time constraints, we forego the idea and head towards Esplanade to meet my dear friend.

All in all, we had a great time spending with Singapore’s National Museums. We learned about the culture and tradition of Singaporeans and been able to witness one of their Singapore Biennale. If you are planning your itineraries in Singapore and will be staying for a week, try to visit their museums. The buildings are well-maintained and taken care of. Plus if you plan to visit a lot of museum better get the Singapore Museum pass to avail discounts on their entrance fee.

If given a chance again to go back to Singapore, I would also love to drop by in these museums:

  • National Gallery Singapore
  • Singapore Philatelic Museum (just a few minute walk from Peranakan Museum)
  • Asian Civilization Museum
  • Singaport MINT Museum (A Toy Museum)
  • Chinatown Heritage Centre
  • Art and Science Museum in Marina Bay Sands (My husband and son will really loved it)

Tips on Singapore Hopping in Museum:

  1. Time your visit. Singapore National Museums held exhibition and festivals. You may check on their website on the dates of their exhibition. Due to time constraints we were only able to cover three museums. If you have lots of time to spend in Singapore, you will also enjoy visiting their museums. Most of their national museums are near with each other and you need to have lots of energy and one pair of strong feet because there will be lots of walking and sight seeing to do.
  2. If you are on a budget constraints, check out the promo dates and schedules for free viewing of the galleries and museums. Some museums offer free entrance on Fridays or late at night prior to closing. Best to check again their websites and announcement
  3. Be mindful of museum etiquette and ask if photography is allowed. Some museums do not want flash photography or do not allow any cameras at all. So it’s best to ask around with the guides hovering around galleries.
  4. If you are planning to visit a lot of museums best to get the museum pass. Most of the museums have entrance fee and if you are planning to visit more than one museum get the pass to avail discounts.
  5. If you are with kids, make sure to bring water and little snacks. Museum hopping can also be tiring!
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