Singapore museums should be on your priority list. Period. Sure, you can find loads of tourist attractions in this beautiful city. But to truly understand its culture and history, you have to visit a Singapore museum.
What you’ll find here are not only buildings that house masterpieces, statues, and artifacts; you’ll also discover heritage sites that tell stories and important events. If you don’t know where to start, there’s no need to worry!
We’ve compiled the best museums in Singapore, along with their location and contact details to make sure you get to enjoy them without getting lost. Travel through time and gain a deeper understanding of this country’s diverse culture by visiting one of these sites in your stay here in the Jewel of Southeast Asia!
10 Best Singapore Museums of All Time
National Gallery Singapore
Let’s start with the most iconic and classic Singapore museum, National Gallery Singapore. This museum and gallery is the leading institution that holds the most extensive Singaporean and Southeast Asian public art collections.
National Gallary Singapore also holds several international awards for its exceptional art exhibitions and service. To name a few:
- Best Theme Attraction at TTG Travel Awards 2017
- Best Attraction Experience
- Breakthrough Contribution to Tourism
- Best Customer Service (Attractions)
If you’re into thought-provoking paintings and mind-bending sculptures, you shouldn’t ignore this museum at all costs. To add an extra touch of fun to the equation, you can end your day with a relaxing drink at Smokes & Mirrors. Conveniently, this classy bar is at the museum’s rooftop.
To Visit National Gallery Singapore:
National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore, made in 1887, is one of the country’s oldest progressive museums. Despite its age and 19th-century colonial exterior, it’s one of the most high-tech museums in Singapore.
Its galleries present new perspectives on Singapore’s story while transporting you on an immersive journey. The museums creative storytelling redefines the traditional museum experience.
This Singapore museum is a must-visit cultural and architectural landmark that delivers unique events all year round. The Night Festival, art installations, performances, and film screenings are but a few of what the National Museum of Singapore offers. It’s also a resource center with a growing collection of about 15,000 publications related to cultural studies, design, and Singapore’s history.
To Visit The National Museum of Singapore:
ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands
Singapore’s ArtScience Museum is a well-known cultural landmark that redefines art and science exhibitions. Its goal is to examine the intersections of art, science, culture, and technology and present them in a new and more attractive light.
The ArtScience Museum also boasts a unique and iconic bright white lotus-shaped building (designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie). It lies at the north of Marina Bay Sands resort, and it is a head-turner that you can’t miss.
The ArtScience Museum is best known for its large-scale touring exhibitions. It features:
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New ideas and innovations emerge at the crossroads of art and science; if you’re into that, this contemporary museum in Singapore is for you.
To Visit The ArtScience Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the country’s national Asian antiquities and decorative arts museum. This Singapore museum highlights Asia’s rich artistic heritage through its outstanding collection of masterpieces and special exhibitions as Asia’s only museum with a pan-Asian scope.
As the biggest Port City of Southeast Asia, it’s not a mystery how it made Singapore diverse in style and culture. Its relics and antiques displayed in ACM are but solid supporting pieces of evidence. Undoubtedly, this museum in Singapore is the epitome of featuring the historical connections between Asian cultures and civilizations and the rest of the world.
This sprawling museum will require an entire afternoon to explore. Its collection depicts the flow of religions, trade, and ideas through Asia. Here, you will discover Buddha and Gandhara culture sculptures that have aged for more than 5,000 years! Also, even if our tone at the moment is quite earnest, ACM isn’t intimidating; it’s even near the Singapore River and just a walk away from excellent beer bars.
To Visit Asian Civilisations Museum:
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
The LKC (Lee Kong Chian) Natural History Museum concentrates on biodiversity, environmental issues, and scientific research in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It’s no Smithsonian Institution, but it does display over 2,000 specimens despite its small size.
LKC is the first natural history museum in South East Asia, and it has 15 zones that showcase:
- Dinosaur fossils
- Extinct large mammals
- Unique animals that once roamed the past
Plus, you’ll also find plants, fungi, and ancient sea creatures!
If you enjoy what once dominated the planet thousands of years ago, this museum is a must-visit. Also, the surrounding gardens of this institution is a bonus as it houses a diverse plethora of plants and heart-warming trees.
To Visit Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum:
Singapore Art Museum
Once a Catholic boys-only school (St. Joseph Institute) for over a century, this historic building is now home to a fine collection of contemporary artworks from Southeast Asia. You will enjoy over 7,000 works of art that are on permanent display in this Singapore art museum.
Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is the first official art museum in Singapore. It opened in 1996, and it is consistent at presenting modern masterpieces, which is a delight for artists and art lovers.
As a non-profit arts organization, SAM preserves, researches, exhibits, and connects artists to the public. More importantly, it strengthens future generations through thought-provoking exhibitions and meaningful programs.
To Visit Singapore Art Museum:
At the moment, this institution is renovating its facilities. However, you can still see their display by following their events. Click here to see their schedule.
Parkview Museum Singapore
The luxurious Parkview Square building, also known as Singapore’s Gotham City building, is where you will find Parkview Museum Singapore. Here, you will find Asia’s most extensive collection of Italian art. It is also home to a significant number of present-day art from Europe and Asia.
The Parkview’s art collection currently includes numerous:
- Salvador Dali collections outside of Spain
- Multiple works by western masters
- Priceless collections of imperial Chinese stone Buddhist carvings
- Ancient bronze ware
- Sizable compilation of contemporary Chinese art totaling
All together, it has over 10,000 works. At Parkview Museum Singapore, you will experience themed showcases, exclusive exhibitions, and guided gallery tours. If you like western art but hate traveling, this place is a must-visit for you.
To Visit Parkview Museum Singapore:
The Peranakan Museum, housed in a beautifully restored three-story Chinese school built in 1912, is dedicated to the Peranakan history, culture, and visual arts. It is a sister company of the Asian Civilisations Museum and rests along Armenian Street.
The Peranakan culture arose from the hundreds of years of intermarrying indigenous Malay communities and immigrant Chinese traders. And this museum is the first to display its jewelry, furniture, art, and cultural beauties.
This ten-gallery exhibition space secures Peranakan culture documents and artifacts, which are brought to life through interactive and multimedia displays on three floors. Keep in mind that when tour groups arrive, this Singapore museum can feel a bit crowded. Nonetheless, it is still worth the trip due to its truly unique display.
To Visit Parkview Museum Singapore:
Singapore Science Centre
Science Centre Singapore is known as one of the best Singapore family attractions as it brings science education to Singapore in a fun and engaging way. This museum is a visionary in the field of science and technology. And it is a leader in helping today’s young minds develop a thirst for learning, making it a perfect museum destination for the family!
Regular exhibitions in this institution promote physical, life, applied, technology, and industrial sciences. The Omni-Theatre, Singapore’s only domed cinema, is equipped with state-of-the-art IMAX technology — a must-see for everyone of all ages.
Singapore Science Centre has over 1,000 interactive science exhibits spread across 14 galleries, providing a fun and educational way to keep you entertained for the entire day. If you can’t stand the tropical heat, head to Snow City, Singapore’s only place where you can play in the snow in sub-zero temperatures.
To Visit Singapore Science Centre:
Singapore Musical Box Museum
You don’t need a time machine to travel through time. A quick visit to the Singapore Musical Box Museum will instantly transport you back to the 1800s and 1900s. With over 40 antique, steampunk-ish musical boxes, we’re sure you’ll see a different world entirely.
A Unesco heritage building next to the Thian Hock Keng temple on Telok Ayer Street houses these priceless artifacts. This museum was created by Japanese collector Naoto Orui and tells the story of the inventions’ (music boxes) rise, fall, origin, and maker. You’ll even have the opportunity to see a rare Edison Opera phonograph, complete with a wooden horn made by Thomas Edison himself.
The museum’s collections are primarily from Switzerland, Germany, and the United States. So you’re not just traveling in time, but in different places too!
To Visit Singapore Musical Box Museum:
10 Best History-Focused Singapore Art Museums
Singapore Philatelic Museum
The Singapore Philatelic Museum is the keeper and curator of Singapore’s philatelic (stamp) collection. The museum’s collections include stamps and archival philatelic material from Singapore dating from the 1830s to the present day and seals from Universal Postal Union member countries.
The permanent galleries put the world of philately in the spotlight — from the first stamp to how stamps serve as a window to the world. You can learn about science, technology, history, and culture through these fascinating stamps.
The museum hosts special exhibitions on current topics throughout the year. Through philately, educational activities are organized for schools and public members to learn about Singapore’s and other countries’ heritage.
To Visit Singapore Philatelic Museum:
Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
Photo by: @zuzanacloud @coloring_add99
The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery traces firefighting and civil defense developments in Singapore almost 150 years ago. Their goal is to showcase Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) proud and long history while raising public awareness of civil defense.
You can experience this part of Singapore’s proud history by touring the gallery in the Central Fire Station (part of the Civic District Heritage Trail). Here, you also get to climb the hose tower, Singapore’s highest viewpoint in the 1920s.
If sightseeing isn’t your cup of tea, you can also inspect the antique fire engines and interactive stations. Doing so gives you a glimpse of what firefighters go through during an operation.
To Visit Civil Defence Heritage Gallery:
Changi Chapel and Museum
The newly renovated Changi Chapel and Museum (CCM) contains new pieces of art and artifacts. These are intimate works and materials that tell the story of the prisoners of war and civilians held in Changi prison during World War II.
The National Museum of Singapore (the organization that oversees CCM) continues to collect stories and personal items from the families of former internees. They aim to narrate the past and build a stronger connection with those who’ve fought during the war.
The museum’s focus is to encourage visitors to keep the events alive, not to remind the people of their sufferings — but to help everyone reflect on the hardships, their courage, and resilience during times of adversity. If you are in a sincere mood, this place is for you.
To Visit Changi Chapel and Museum:
The Battle Box
The Battlebox, a former World War II British underground command center inside Fort Canning Hill in Singapore City, was built in 1936. It was part of Malaya Command’s headquarters, the army that defended Malaya and Singapore during WWII. On February 15, 1942, the British decided to surrender Singapore to the Japanese in this historical bunker.
Singapore History Consultants Pte Ltd now manages the Battlebox as a Singapore museum. The restored underground command center, which reopened in February 2016, reveals the true causes of Singapore’s surrender.
Here, you enjoy a one-hour tour that takes you into the underground command center. This museum tour retells how Malaya and Singapore fell to the Imperial Japanese Empire in just 70 days. Guides will also explain the bunker’s role in the war while taking you through replicas and authentic rooms used by the military at the time.
To Visit The Battle Box:
Diving deeper into the past, you should visit Singapore’s only well-preserved coastal, Fort Siloso. This post once served as one of the country’s primary defenses against the Japanese forces.
Here, you will enjoy:
- WWII memorabilia
- Coastal guns
- Fortified military structures and tunnels
- an interactive video documentary
- Wax figures of Japanese and British soldiers
This place has effectively recreated the events of Japan’s victory during WWII. At Fort Siloso, learning history has never been this fun. Climb through tunnels and look at original guns, cannons, film clips, and old war photographs.
To add an even more impressive touch to this description, Fort Siloso has no entrance fee!
To Visit Fort Siloso:
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Photo By Mike Cartmell from Singapore
The Buddhist Cultural Museum has a variety of rare artifacts that detail the history of Buddhism and the various traditions practiced in Asian countries. Here, you will see the Sacred Buddha Relics Chamber that displays the physical representation of Buddha. These are:
You will also see a 15-foot Maitreya Buddha that rests peacefully in the main hall. At the very start of your tour, you will feel the instant change in energy. If you’re into exploring new practices, visiting this cultural museum in Singapore is a must!
To Visit Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum:
Indian Heritage Centre
Photo by Smuconlaw
The Indian Heritage Centre, managed by the National Heritage Board and supported by the Indian community, chronicles the history of the Indian and South Asian inhabitants in Southeast Asia.
This four-story museum combines conventional Indian and modern architectural elements. The baoli (or Indian stepwell) is the core inspiration of the building’s facade. And it aims to create an urban forum for celebrating and appreciating the Indian culture in Singapore.
It has five permanent galleries, a museum shop, and programming and activity spaces. A visit here is a visit to India.
To Visit Indian Heritage Centre:
Malay Heritage Centre
This museum, housed in the historic Istana Kampong Gelam, traces the Malay community’s history. From the earliest settlers and in-depth account of the Bugis villagers’ seafarers to the golden years of the Malay entertainment industry, this museum has it all.
It also highlights the history of Kampong Gelam and contributions made by various Malay pioneers in its exhibits, which are divided into six sub-galleries.
For history lovers visiting and living in Singapore, you can’t miss seeing the Malay Heritage Centre. Here, you will learn more about the Malay culture in a fun and exciting way.
To Visit Malay Heritage Centre:
Eurasian Heritage Gallery
The newly renovated Eurasian Heritage Gallery provides insight into the lives of Singapore’s Eurasian community. The gallery, which is in the Eurasian Community House in Katong, features the community’s most prominent Eurasian figures. It also narrates the history of Eurasians in Singapore and their culture, including weddings, traditional outfits, cuisine, and others.
At the Eurasian Heritage Gallery, you will learn about Eurasian origins, culture, history, traditions, surnames, language, and even food. For the latter, it’s more than learning; it’s also tasting! You can try dining at Quentin’s Eurasian restaurant, which is in the same building.
To Visit Eurasian Heritage Gallery:
Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery
Image Source: Elaine Chng
Cantonese-Chinese immigrants in the 1800s once used Kreta Ayer as a settlement. It became renowned for its cultural arts scene. Thanks to the Chinese opera troupes and art and music associations, it became popular. The district is now the beating heart of modern-day Chinatown.
Kreta Ayer was famous for its 24-hour entertainment scene as it was teeming with teahouses, opera houses, and brothels. The museum today, co-curated by the National Heritage Board (NDB) and the Kreta Ayer Community Club (CC), is more focused on telling you about the district’s history.
Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery pays tribute to the area’s rich history with contributions from heritage practitioners and former residents. Here, you can examine more than 170 historical objects, photographs, and personal effects.
To Visit Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery:
5 Best Kid-Friendly Singapore Museums
Singapore Discovery Centre
The five galleries of interactive and multi-sensory exhibits in this center vividly bring the Singapore story to life. The Visionarium, the world’s first and largest interactive design studio with a 360-degree wrap-around screen, and the iWERKS Theatre, a flat-screen theatre that projects traditional and 3D giant screen movies are among the highlights that will truly captivate you and your kids.
To Visit Singapore Discovery Centre:
Trick Eye Museum
Image Source: Pelago Co
The Trick Eye Museum, which originated in Korea, is located at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore and features six zones with various themes such as “Safari” and “Circus.” Each one is filled with three-dimensional paintings and optical illusion masterpieces that make for fantastic photo opportunities.
To Visit Trick Eye Museum:
MINT Museum of Toys
Image Source: MINT Museum of Toys Facebook Page
This private museum houses the most extensive collection of vintage toys in Southeast Asia, with over 50,000 pieces on display. It’s easy to get lost in the past in this five-story temple to toys, which features rare or one-of-a-kind items from more than 40 countries, some of which date back to the mid-19th century.
To Visit MINT Museum of Toys:
The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum
Image Source: The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum Facebook Page
The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, previously located in the Chinese Garden, has recently relocated to Yishun. It’s home to over 200 turtles and tortoises from over 60 different species, including several endangered reptiles.
The strange and wondrous Mata-Mata, fearsome alligator snapping turtles, and one 60-year-old Asian pond turtle will all leave you speechless. The museum’s owners claimed to have discovered a double-headed, six-legged amphibian in their courtyard and nursed it back to health.
Its petting corner is an excellent place for kids to get up close and personal with some of the gentler animals. You can give the tiny terrapins and soft shell tortoises a pat on the shell or feed them if you look for them in the park.
To Visit The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum:
You can take selfies with some of the museum’s local heroes and celebs, including Jack Neo and Gurmit Singh, at the A-List Party section, in addition to the regular army of international superstars.
Another attraction you need to watch is the Spirit of Singapore indoor boat ride, which is unique to the Singapore outpost. It includes replicas of all-time favorite tourist attractions and glimpses into local cultures, such as the re-enactment of a traditional Chinese opera.
To Visit Madame Tussauds:
5 Singapore Museums for a Unique Date or Super Boring Days
Vintage Camera’s Museum
Image Source: Vintage Camera’s Museum Facebook Page
The museum, which has over 1000 vintage cameras, is the first in Singapore to collect analog instruments. In fact, the structure of this museum itself is modeled after a massive Rollei camera.
Everything from novel old-school spy cameras to pistol cameras is on display. Aside from equipment, the museum features vintage photographs, interesting photography facts, and an authentic replica of the first photograph ever taken!
To Visit Vintage Camera’s Museum:
If you’re into sports and would like to have a more profound understanding of Singapore’s fascinating sporting history, you can’t miss the Sports Museum Singapore. It follows the history and development of various sports in the city-state.
The Traditional & Indigenous Sports Gallery showcases indigenous sports like Chinese hopscotch, chapteh, and five stones. At the same time, the Heroes Gallery pays tribute to the country’s best athletes and athletes-turned-politicians.
To Visit Sports Museum:
Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum
The Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum exhibits artifacts and dioramas from the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s history, beginning with the Royal Air Force in 1927 and continuing to the present day. It features everything in nine indoor galleries with audio-visual effects. Fighter planes like the A4-C Skyhawk, the SF 260 Marchetti, and the Hunter Hawker are boasting throughout the facility. If you’re a fan of war history, military equipment, and fighter planes, you have to visit this place.
To Visit Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum:
The Cathay Gallery
Image Source: The Cathay Gallery Facebook Page
The Cathay Gallery, resting on the second floor of The Cathay, offers more than movie magic. This pearl is a time capsule of film memorabilia, complete with vintage film posters from some of cinema’s most iconic movies, including The Jungle Book and The Sound of Music.
A visit to The Cathay Gallery will take you on a journey through the Loke family’s illustrious history as pioneers of the Singapore film industry and founders of the Cathay Organisation. While you’re there, check out the black-and-white trailer for Pontianak, a 1957 horror film produced by Cathay.
To Visit The Cathay Gallery:
The Singapore Ant Museum
Image Source: The Singapore Ant Museum Facebook Page
The majority of people hate ants and consider them pests, and we can’t blame them. However, if you disagree with that notion, you’re one of the few that find these tiny creatures to be a source of inspiration.
Zat Low has turned his passion for insects into a two-story museum with exhibitions, interactive displays, and artwork. Explore an unseen world of ants and better understand the creature at The Singapore Ant Museum. This place is one of the few museums in Singapore that features 50 different native species and 25 intricately designed formicarium.
To Visit The Singapore Ant Museum:
Singapore Museums Summary
When it comes to reliving the past without leaving the comforts of today’s technology, you can’t go wrong with Singapore museums. Whether you’re a tourist or not, you have to try these featured attractions. You’ll never know; you might end up exploring all of them after stepping in just one of them!
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