Despite the fact that Singapore is primarily the financial capital of Asia, Singaporeans are reverent about their cultural heritage, preserving it for future generations. In confirmation of this, you can find many modern museums, theaters, galleries and libraries in the city. Most of the museums are geared towards children – innovative, smart, interactive spaces where you can touch exhibits and conduct various experiments allow you to get the most out of history and art.
National Gallery Singapore
Here you can explore the world’s largest collection of paintings from Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present day. The gallery is located within the walls of two national monuments – the City Hall and the former Supreme Court. The museum also offers educational workshops for children and adults, guided tours, and the possibility of renting or downloading a free audio guide to your phone.
National Museum of Singapore
The museum building itself is a historical monument of the 19th century, a legacy of the British Empire. The exhibits tell a lot of interesting things about the history of Singapore. The exhibits tell stories of ancient empires and sultanates and the times of British colonial rule on the island. Also about the amazing reforms and transformations that led to the “economic miracle” and brought Singapore to the world leaders in a very short time.
On the second floor is an entertaining permanent exhibition Growing Up, showing the turbulent history of Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of a child from a simple family: native kampong, school, home life, and unpretentious entertainment. Everything is in objects, photos and even videos. There are many activities for children here. For example, you can print a coloring book, dress up in a national costume, make a handicraft, “cook” a national dish in a toy oven. You can find a schedule of exhibitions and events on the museum’s website.
Asian Civilizations Museum
Singapore has always been at the crossroads of major trade routes and trade has been known to lead to the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas. The museum showcases items from different civilizations that have crossed Singapore’s path. There are statues of Hindu deities, Buddhist symbols, and objects of Islamic and Chinese art. Collections of Chinese porcelain and Indian luxury items are very memorable.
Be sure to visit the hall dedicated to the Tang Dynasty ship. This merchant ship sailed from South China to Iran, with a cargo of Chinese pottery (60,000 items) as well as silver and goldware on board. It sank 1,100 years ago. In 1998 it was discovered and lifted up, and today you can see the perfectly preserved tableware and jewelry. A whole day is dedicated to children here every first Saturday of the month. The program includes performances, fairy tales, instruction in one of the national arts, and more. There are also themed festivals and events on the eve of important Singaporean holidays.
Museum of Art and Science
The museum building is a work of art in itself. It adorns the Marina Bay promenade and is one of its main attractions. The museum was designed by the famous architect Moshe Safdie. The shape of the building to some looks like a lotus flower, to others like a welcoming open palm.
The center of the “palm” collects rainwater, which is then transformed into a waterfall inside the building, the “fingers” are a source of natural light. There have been exhibitions of works by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the short and loud voyage of the famous liner Titanic, a story about the history of clocks, various photo exhibitions and even an exhibit dedicated to Egyptian mummies.
Admission is free on Fridays for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. Except for national holidays and school vacations (usually starting in November and lasting a month and a half). The museum constantly organizes numerous exhibitions, guided tours and workshops especially for children of different ages.
Science Centre Singapore
Where does a tsunami come from? Why does the climate change? How is the brain made? Here you can touch everything, press any button, conduct an experiment yourself and find out where many natural phenomena come from. You can go inside a human body and make a small scientific discovery without harming the health of others.
Contemporary Art Center
Gillman Barracks is located in the former military barracks. It is now home to galleries showcasing Singaporean and international visionary artists, as well as stores, a couple of art cafes and spaces that host non-profit events. The center hosts major events such as the Singapore Biennale. There’s a succession of exhibitions, and it’s always interesting.
Sentosa Maritime Experiential Museum
One of Singapore’s newest museums is entirely geared toward children. It’s connected to the S.E.A. Aquarium. The interactive exhibits, which can be touched, twisted and allowed to be clicked on, will tell you about various amazing sea creatures. Also usually very enjoyable are models of “real” size ships, a collection of drums that you can play on, and a “ride” on a sailing ship that is moored in the Typhoon Theatre room.
Every historic district has a Heritage Centre, be it Chinatown, Little India or Kampong Glam. Be sure to check it out! These centers are like time machines. They tell the unique stories of the people who founded and built Singapore. The country’s history is told through photographs, rare films and personal letters. Imagine how people lived, worked, socialized and felt over a century ago.
Peranakan Culture Museum
The word “peranakan” means “descendant”. Traders who came to Singapore often stayed and put down roots here by marrying local women. The children born of these marriages formed the Peranakan people. The ancestors of many Peranakans come from China, but there are also Indian and Arab Peranakans.
The culture of this people is very distinctive. Walking through the halls of the museum, you can learn about the origin, life, faith, holidays and colorful weddings of the Peranakans, see their portraits and national clothes, admire the fine embroidery and original color combinations. The jewel of the museum is a luxurious Peranakan wedding bed, which belonged to Mrs. Kwah Hong Chiam from Penang.
Incidentally, the Peranakan Museum is one of the top three most visited museums in Singapore according to the authoritative travel website TripAdvisor. Every second Sunday of the month is Straits Family Sunday, which includes kid-oriented tours, music and dance performances, and workshops.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Is your child a fan of dinosaurs? Then this is the right place for you. This museum has 150 million year old reptiloid and other diplodoc skeletons! There are also the remains of a giant prehistoric whale. You can learn about the plants and animals that inhabit Singapore on a tour.
Museum of Toys
Asia’s largest collection of teddy bears, monster-sized Batman, Mickey Mouse, Star Wars characters, vintage Japanese and Chinese toys. All in all the museum has about 3,000 exhibits, many of which will not only delight the kids, but also make moms and dads remember their childhood. The collection was collected from all over the world. Look closely – maybe there is a counterpart of your favorite baby doll or bunny?