The National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in the city and one of the most prominent national monuments. Formerly known as the Raffles Library and Museum, it was initially a segment of Singapore Institution’s library from 1849 to 1887 when it was moved to the present building by Colonel Sir Henry Edward McCallum (the colonial engineer responsible for introducing electricity to Singapore in 1892).
Spanning over 18,400 sq m, the National Museum of Singapore is the biggest in the country, with exhibits that largely reflect the rich history of Singapore as well as Asia. The museum is housed in a neo-classical style building enhanced with modern structural designs.
Singapore National Museum Highlights
National Museum of Singapore is truly an architectural marvel, boasting a breathtaking 11-metre-high glass passage that enables you to tour the modern building through the older one. A unique rotunda showcases meticulously restored Victorian glassworks. The Canyon, the main entrance area, has distinctively textured walls reminiscent of stratified earth, and the Concourse is a noteworthy blend of classical and modern designs.
The exhibits are spread across 6 galleries, with the Goh Seng Choo Gallery and Singapore History Gallery having some of the museum’s most incredible items. On display in the Goh Seng Choo Gallery is the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings that includes more than 450 drawings of Farquhar.
As you enter the Singapore History Gallery through the striking glass rotunda, you’ll be taken on a journey through the rich history of Singapore that dates back to the 14th century. A storytelling approach is utilized to provide a better understanding of the obstacles that early inhabitants had to endure and overcome.
Additionally, there are 4 separate living galleries that throw light on the lifestyle and inventiveness of early Singaporean society. Exhibits include:
- Film and traditional wayang puppetry, including early movie paraphernalia and intricate costumes of early Chinese operas.
- Photography – albums and portraits collected over a century.
- Food, inclusive of artifacts that correspond to the ethnic multiplicity of the region, like colourful jars adorned with the reproductions of The Farquhar Prints & Drawings donated by Mr. GK Goh, the son of Farquhar, and aromatic spices used to add flavour to local cuisines.
- Fashion-related objects that echo the changing trends of Singaporean women from 1950 to 1970s.
In addition to permanent exhibits, the museum also holds special exhibitions and a variety of events in the form of public art, festivals, workshops, and lecture programmes throughout the year.
Even though entry to the museum building is free, you’ll be charged to gain access to living galleries as well as certain shows and events. The museum is easily accessible with a 5-minute walk from Bras Basah MRT Station or Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station. City Hall MRT Station is just 10 minutes away. Stamford Road Bus Stop and YMCA bus stop are nearby.
National Museum of Singapore
Location: 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 7pm
Phone: +65 6332 3659