Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Museums in Singapore
Whether you’re an art fan, budding scientist or history buff, Singapore has a museum for every taste.
Each of the museums we’ll look at today offer a glimpse into the city-state’s rich history and culture, so you can learn and be amazed at the same time!
In this article we’ll take you through our list of top 10 must-see museums in Singapore.
Let’s get going!
Museums in Singapore || National Museum of Singapore
Museums in Singapore || ArtScience Museum
Museums in Singapore || Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
Museums in Singapore || Singapore Discovery Center
Museums in Singapore || Battlebox
Museums in Singapore || Asian Civilisations Museum
Museums in Singapore || National Gallery Singapore
Museums in Singapore || Hell’s Museum
Museums in Singapore || Changi Chapel and Museum
Museums in Singapore || Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Museums in Singapore || FAQs
Museums in Singapore – National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in Singapore, dating back to its founding in 1887. It is located in the downtown area of Singapore, and it is one of the most prominent cultural institutions in the country.
The museum underwent a major renovation in the early 2000s and reopened in 2006 with a new modern façade and upgraded facilities.
The museum’s collection spans over 700 years of Singapore’s history, with exhibits on topics such as archaeology, ethnography, natural history, and fine arts.
The museum’s galleries are divided into two main themes: Singapore Living Galleries and Singapore History Gallery. The Singapore Living Galleries showcase the daily lives and cultural practices of Singapore’s diverse communities, while the Singapore History Gallery presents a comprehensive history of the island nation, from its earliest days to the present.
The museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, which cover a wide range of topics, from contemporary art to science and technology.
In addition to its exhibitions, the National Museum of Singapore also offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and guided tours for visitors of all ages. It is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, and it is widely regarded as one of Singapore’s most important cultural institutions.
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Museums in Singapore – ArtScience Museum
The ArtScience Museum is a contemporary art museum located in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. It is known for its distinctive lotus-shaped building and its focus on the intersection of art, science, culture, and technology.
The museum opened in 2011 and was designed by architect Moshe Safdie. It has 21 gallery spaces spread over three floors, which host a range of exhibitions throughout the year.
The museum’s permanent exhibition is called “Future World: Where Art Meets Science,” and it features interactive installations that use cutting-edge technology to explore themes such as nature, city, and park.
The ArtScience Museum has hosted a variety of temporary exhibitions since its opening, including retrospectives of artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, as well as themed exhibitions on topics such as the human body, robotics, and space exploration.
In addition to its exhibitions, the ArtScience Museum also offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and talks for visitors of all ages.
It has a strong focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education and aims to inspire visitors to explore the connections between these different fields.
The ArtScience Museum is a unique cultural institution in Singapore that combines art, science, and technology in innovative ways. It is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, and it has helped to establish Marina Bay Sands as a hub for arts and culture in the city.
Museums in Singapore – Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a Buddhist temple located in the Chinatown district of Singapore. The temple is named after a sacred relic that is believed to be the left canine tooth of the historical Buddha, which was recovered from his funeral pyre in India.
The temple was built in 2007 and features an ornate, five-story pagoda-style architecture inspired by the Tang dynasty. It houses a museum on its third and fourth floors, which showcases the history and culture of Buddhism and its practices around the world.
The museum’s collection includes over 300 Buddhist artifacts from countries such as China, Myanmar, and Thailand, including statues, prayer wheels, and scriptures.
The most important artifact is the Buddha tooth relic, which is housed in a gold stupa on the fourth floor of the temple.
Visitors can also participate in religious ceremonies and rituals at the temple, such as chanting and offering of incense.
The temple has a vegetarian restaurant on its rooftop, where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Chinatown while savoring Buddhist-inspired dishes.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a popular destination for both tourists and locals interested in Buddhism and its cultural significance. It is also a spiritual and cultural center for the local Chinese Buddhist community in Singapore.
Museums in Singapore – Singapore Discovery Center
The Singapore Discovery Centre is a museum and educational center located in Jurong West, Singapore. It was opened in 1996 and has since become a popular destination.
The center’s mission is to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s history, culture, and development.
It does this through a range of exhibits, multimedia presentations, and interactive displays that cover a wide range of topics, including the country’s history, political system, defense capabilities, and national identity.
One of the center’s most popular exhibits is the “Story of Singapore” exhibit, which traces the island nation’s development from its early days as a fishing village to its current status as a modern metropolis.
The Singapore Discovery Centre also offers a range of educational programs and workshops for students, as well as team-building activities and corporate events for businesses. There is also an outdoor adventure park, where visitors can participate in activities such as rock climbing, paintball, and laser tag.
Overall, the Singapore Discovery Centre is a fascinating and engaging place to learn about Singapore’s history and culture. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the country’s development and identity.
Museums in Singapore – Battlebox
The Battlebox is a museum located in Fort Canning Hill, Singapore. It is a former military command center that was used by the British during World War II to coordinate their defense of the island against the invading Japanese forces.
The Battlebox museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the events that took place during the Battle of Singapore, which led to the British surrendering to the Japanese in 1942.
The museum’s exhibits include interactive displays, dioramas, and artifacts that provide a vivid and immersive experience of the war.
Visitors can explore the underground bunker, which has been restored to its original condition, and see the rooms where the British military commanders made their decisions. They can also learn about the tactics and strategies used by both sides during the battle, as well as the experiences of ordinary Singaporeans who lived through the war.
The museum offers guided tours that provide in-depth insights into the historical context and significance of the Battle of Singapore. It also hosts special events and activities throughout the year, such as reenactments and talks by military historians.
The Battlebox museum is a fascinating and sobering reminder of Singapore’s wartime history. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in military history or the experiences of civilians during times of conflict.
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Museums in Singapore – Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum is a museum located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District. It is one of the country’s oldest and largest museums and is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Asia, with a focus on the civilizations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia.
The museum’s collection includes more than 2,000 artifacts, including ceramics, textiles, sculptures, and metalwork. These objects are organized into thematic galleries that showcase the diversity and richness of Asian cultures, from the ancient civilizations of China and India to the modern societies of Southeast Asia.
One of the museum’s most impressive exhibits is the Tang Shipwreck Gallery, which features artifacts recovered from a ninth-century shipwreck in the Java Sea.
The gallery showcases the maritime trade routes that linked China with other parts of Asia and the Middle East, as well as the innovative technologies used by Tang Dynasty craftsmen to create objects of exquisite beauty.
Other notable exhibits at the museum include the South Asian Gallery, which features artifacts from the Indian subcontinent, and the Southeast Asian Gallery, which showcases the cultural diversity of the region through a wide range of objects and artifacts.
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The Asian Civilisations Museum also hosts a range of educational programs and events, including guided tours, lectures, and workshops. These programs are designed to engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds and to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures.
In short, the Asian Civilisations Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the arts and cultures of Asia. It is a fascinating and enriching experience that offers a unique perspective on the region’s rich history and traditions.
Museums in Singapore – National Gallery Singapore
The National Gallery Singapore is a museum located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District. It is housed in two iconic heritage buildings, the former Supreme Court and City Hall, which have been beautifully restored and transformed into a world-class museum of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art.
The museum’s collection comprises over 8,000 artworks from Singapore, Southeast Asia, and beyond. It includes paintings, sculptures, installations, and multimedia works that reflect the diverse artistic traditions and cultural identities of the region. The museum’s exhibitions cover a wide range of themes, from traditional art forms to cutting-edge contemporary art.
One of the highlights of the National Gallery Singapore is its permanent galleries, which showcase the best of Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present day.
The galleries are organized thematically, with each one exploring a different aspect of Southeast Asian art, such as its historical, social, and cultural contexts. The museum also features a rotating schedule of temporary exhibitions, which showcase the works of local and international artists.
The National Gallery Singapore also offers a range of educational programs and events, including guided tours, workshops, and talks. These programs are designed promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asian art.
The museum is also home to several dining options, including rooftop bars and restaurants with stunning views of the city skyline.
Overall, the National Gallery Singapore is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art. It is a fascinating and enriching experience that offers a unique perspective on the region’s artistic and cultural heritage.
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Museums in Singapore – Hell’s Museum
Hell’s Museum is exactly what you’re thinking it is!
It’s located within the Haw Par Villa attraction in Singapore. Haw Par Villa is a park that features over 1,000 statues and dioramas that depict scenes from Chinese mythology, folklore, and legends.
The Hell’s Museum, also known as the Ten Courts of Hell, is a section within Haw Par Villa that showcases the different levels of punishment in the Chinese underworld, according to traditional beliefs.
The museum features a series of gruesome and graphic displays that depict scenes of punishment and torture for various sins, such as dishonesty, theft, and adultery.
Visitors can walk through a maze-like structure that leads them through the different levels of the underworld, where they can see the various punishments and tortures that are inflicted on the souls of the deceased – yikes!
The displays are designed to educate visitors about traditional Chinese beliefs about the afterlife and to serve as a reminder of the consequences of immoral behavior.
It is important to note that the Hell’s Museum may not be suitable for young children or individuals who are sensitive to graphic and disturbing images, so proceed with caution!
Museums in Singapore – Changi Chapel and Museum
The Changi Chapel and Museum is a museum in Singapore that commemorates the experience of prisoners of war and civilian internees who were held captive by the Japanese during World War II.
The museum is located in the northeast corner of the island and is situated on the site of the former Changi Prison.
The museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the thousands of prisoners of war and civilians who were held captive by the Japanese in Singapore during the war.
The museum features several galleries that showcase artifacts, photographs, and personal stories of those who lived and died in the prison camps.
One of the main highlights of the museum is the replica of the Changi Chapel, a simple chapel that was constructed by prisoners of war using whatever materials they could find. The chapel served as a place of worship and solace for the prisoners, and the replica is an exact copy of the original, complete with the original furnishings and fittings.
Another significant exhibit is the Changi Murals, a series of murals painted by a British prisoner of war, Stanley Warren. The murals depict scenes of hope and inspiration, and they were preserved and restored for display at the museum.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also features a range of temporary exhibitions and educational programs, such as guided tours and workshops. These programs are designed to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the experiences of those who were held captive in the prison camps.
Overall, the Changi Chapel and Museum is a powerful and moving tribute to the resilience and courage of those who suffered during World War II. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Singapore’s wartime history and the human spirit.
Museums in Singapore – Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is a museum in Singapore that showcases the natural history and biodiversity of Southeast Asia. The museum is located at the National University of Singapore and was opened in 2015.
The museum features over 2 million specimens of plants, animals, and fossils from Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia. The specimens are displayed in a range of exhibits that cover topics such as ecology, evolution, geology, and biodiversity.
One of the most notable exhibits at the museum is the three-story high display of a 150 million-year-old dinosaur, Prince, which was discovered in the United States in the late 1800s. The exhibit also features other dinosaur fossils, as well as interactive displays and multimedia presentations that explain the science of paleontology.
Other notable exhibits at the museum include the Singapore Biodiversity Gallery, which showcases the diverse flora and fauna found in Singapore’s various ecosystems, and the Mammal Zone, which features over 600 specimens of mammals from Southeast Asia, including primates, rodents, and carnivores.
The museum also features a range of educational programs and activities for visitors of all ages, such as guided tours, workshops, and science camps. These programs are designed to engage visitors with the natural world and to promote conservation and sustainability.
The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is a fascinating and educational destination for anyone interested in the natural world and the rich biodiversity of Southeast Asia.
What’s your favourite museum in Singapore? Let us know in the comments below!
Museums in Singapore – FAQs
What’s the oldest museum in Singapore?
The oldest museum in Singapore is the National Museum of Singapore and dates all the way back to 1887!
Which museum in Singapore is best for kids?
Singapore has a number of museums that are great for kids, but the best one would depend on the age and interests of the child.
As a rule of thumb, the ArtScience Museum and the Singapore Discovery Center usually have lots of child-friendly exhibits!
What else should I do in Singapore?
Musems aside, there’s plenty to do in Singapore!
Check out our ultimate guide on things to do in Singapore here
Can I learn Chinese in Singapore?
Absolutely, you can even live with a Singaporean family in LTL’s homestay program.
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