Museums traditionally collect and display objects with the purpose of education and enjoyment. They open your eyes to a bigger world leaving you in awe, telling the rich stories of yesteryear that have shaped our today and captivate you with artistic masterpieces. These days, there are different types of museums where some encourage creativity or exploration about modern culture and social issues.
This unique appeal of museums makes them ideal places to visit and transport you to another world as you explore hundreds of artefacts. With tons of engaging exhibits and activities available for adults and children, a trip to the museum is perfect for a weekend outing and provides the opportunity for you to engage your child or learn something new in the process.
Here are some ideas for museum-themed family outings:
Go back in time: Museums on History
If you are constantly amazed by tales of history and would love to let your children see these tales come alive, visit the National Museum of Singapore, the nation’s oldest museum dating back to 1849. You will be kept busy with the countless permanent exhibitions including “History of the National Museum of Singapore”, a 19th-century inspired mural painting depicting the deep history and collections of the museum. This mural, painted on the Grand Staircase, took only four days to paint!
Another noteworthy permanent exhibition here is the Singapore History Gallery which showcases how much our island has developed from as early as 1299 when it was known as Singapura, to the days of being called Crown Colony since 1867, until the Japanese Occupation when we were known as Syonan-To and finally, since Independence, being known as Singapore.
Be inspired: Museums on Art
Art appears in many forms and never fails to fascinate. Let your child be inspired and let their imagination run wild as they explore various exhibits and take part in creative activities at the different art museums.
For contemporary art, take a trip to the Singapore Art Museum where you will get to watch short films by local filmmakers, take part in children’s crafts and get fascinated by iconic art pieces by pioneering, mid-career and emerging local and Southeast Asian artists.
The MINT Museum of Toys portrays art on another level with its world-class collection of collectibles and vintage toys from over 40 countries dating all the way back to the 1840s and 1970s! The museum also has four themes spread across four levels: OuterSpace, Characters, Childhood Favourites and Collectibles - a chance to reminisce your childhood and share your stories with your child.
Thirdly, the ArtScience Museum stands out from the rest with its focus on futuristic exhibitions that bring together technology and creativity to present you modern art. This museum constantly introduces new exhibitions that draw much attention and make for exciting trips with the family. The resident exhibition to explore with kids is “Into The Wild”, an Immersive Virtual Adventure that takes you through a virtual rainforest spread over 1000 square metres, all through a smartphone device. The exhibition uses Tango, a cutting-edge technology designed by Google and is one with a serious cause - for every virtual tree you plant in the virtual forest, together with a pledge made to the exhibition’s co-developer the World Wildlife Foundation, a real tree is planted in a rainforest in Indonesia!
Celebrate diversity: Museums on Culture
Get in touch with your roots and learn more about the many cultures that make up Singapore with visits to the heritage museums. The Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum are both part of the four main museums in Singapore and they give you insight into the rustic charm of olden-day Singapore.
The Peranakan Museum has three themed levels - Level 1, an Introduction to the Peranakan community and its beginnings; Level 2, the traditional rituals of Peranakan Weddings and Level 3, Peranakan Life which gives you a peek into the life of the Peranakan Chinese community.
While the Asian Civilisations Museum hosts special exhibitions that are temporary in nature, it is also home to permanent galleries that foster understanding of the diverse heritage cultures of Singapore, their interconnections and connections with the world. Galleries on the First Level tell the story of Trade, beginning with objects from a 9th-century shipwreck recovered in Indonesian waters south of Singapore. Galleries on the Second Level show how systems of Faith and Belief spread and adapted across Asia, while galleries on the Third Level exhibit comprehensive collections of Chinese ceramics, and will soon include spaces dedicated to Asian jewellery and fashion. The galleries are organised thematically with an emphasis on networks and flowers rather than borders and boundaries, taking a transnational perspective when looking at Asian art and history.
The other museums dedicated to the three common heritages of Singapore are the Chinese Heritage Centre, the Malay Heritage Centre and the Indian Heritage Centre. These centres showcase the early years of migrants from China, Malaya and India through videos and displayed artefacts, in mini trails that lead to the development of each community today.
Singapore, our tiny island, has much to offer and to be proud of - as is evident from our museums. While most museums are free for Singapore citizens and PRs, some exhibitions require ticketing and may require visitors to keep to allocated time slots. Remember to check the museum websites for the latest highlights before you visit.