Inspiring, informative…affordable and air-conditioned! Let me introduce you to my three favourite museums in Singapore. All you need are comfortable shoes and some coins for a coffee afterwards!
Malay Heritage Centre
A stone’s throw away from the busy Bugis area, this architectural beauty is located in tranquil herb-filled gardens. The current building was established in 1840 by Sultan Ali, the son of Sultan Hussein Shah. Know as Istana Kampong Glam, it was once the royal seat of the Malay sultans in Singapore.
It’s a great spot for learning about local Malay history, and see the characteristic elements of Malay culture in contrast to other Singapore cultures. See also the contribution made by diverse nearby immigrants such as the seafaring (and scary!) Bugis, and the matriarchal Minangkabau women with their buffalo horn head-dress. The gift shop has a wide range of affordable presents, and you can tuck into some beef rendang and nasi lemak at the nearby Rumah Makan Minang eatery. Visit the Malay Heritage Centre
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Make your way along the historical precinct of Balestier Road by catching a bus from Toa Payoh or Novena. Built in 1902, this elegant classical colonial style house features ornate arched windows and doors, eaves decorated with floral patterns, and movable louvred windows.
The museum is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China and an instrumental figure in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty (the last imperial dynasty of China). You’ll also learn about Dr. Lim Boon Keng, whom generations of Singaporean woman can thank for his co-founding of the Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS) in 1899. During WW2, Lim Boon Keng was also a war hero in saving the lives of young Singaporean men from continued Japanese atrocities by agreeing to help collect funds and borrow money to pay the Japanese army. Visit the Sun Yat Seng Nanyang Memorial Hall. Visit the Sun Yat Seng Nanyang Memorial Hall
The Peranakan Museum
Built in the "Eclectic Classical" style, this 1912-built dame is perfect showcase for hybrid beauty of Peranakan culture. The fluted columns and the symmetry of the building are characteristic of Classical architecture while the balconies fronting the façade suggest a colonial or tropical style. With Over 10 galleries, you’ll discover the lifestyle and history of the Peranakans influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Dutch elements.
On one Sunday a month, you’ll enjoy a kids-themed event called Straits Family Sundays, and often there are talks and other events held in the lovely community Ixora room. I was fortunate enough to hold a Peranakan Printing workshop there several years ago - a dream come true to be creative in such a historic corner of town. Visit the Peranakan Museum