There are a lot of different types of tourism. Food tourism, beach tourism, sightseeing tourism, etc. They all include different activities and they all drive you to look for different things. However, no matter what kind of tourism you prefer, there are some places that just shouldn’t be missed when you are in a foreign country – the places that show you as much of the country’s history, culture and spirit as possible.

So even if you’re not a fan of museums and even if you intend to spend your vacation enjoying the nightlife, for example, or the countless food places in Singapore (and, boy, does Singapore offer a lot in that regard!), it’s still worth to visit at least one museum to get the feel of the city’s history. And if you want to do that, then the National Museum of Singapore is the one to check out.

The National Museum of Singapore is both the oldest museum in the country, and one of the most modernized museums in the world. Created all the way back in 1887 (or rather, in 1849 as a section of the library of Singapore, before it was moved at Stamford Road and established as a museum in its own right), today this is a museum with massive video screens and projections, immersive sound systems, and impressive presentations.

The building of the museum represents this duality quite perfectly as well – a mixture of beautiful neo-classic architecture and a modern extension of glass and metal. Additionally, it recently went through a 3-and-a-half year renovation, which finished with the reopening of the museum on December 2, 2006. Just 6 days later, on December 8, 2006, the Singapore History Gallery opened as well.

In past years, the museum used to focus quite a lot on a collection of zoological items, but those were later transferred to the National University of Singapore (NUS) and various other museums across the Commonwealth. Today, there are eleven major artefacts that are housed in the National Museum of Singapore, along with its hundreds of other exhibits:

  • The Singapore Stone – a fragment of a large sandstone slab from the mouth of the Singapore River.
  • The Gold Ornaments of the Sacred Hill from East Java
  • Dagguerreotype of Singapore Town which was one of the earliest photographs of Singapore
  • The will of Munshi Abdullah
  • The portrait of Frank Athelstane Swettenham
  • The hearse of Tan Jiak Kim
  • A Peranakan coffin cover
  • The mace of the City of Singapore commemorating King George VI’s raising of the island’s status to a city in 1951
  • The Xin Sai Le puppet stage
  • William Farquhar’s drawings of flora and fauna
  • The portrait of Shenton Thomas, who was the former governor of Singapore. Rocks from the nearby Fort Canning Hill were used to create two sculptures commissioned from Cultural Medallion-winner Han Sai Por.

All this, and much more awaits in in the National Museum of Singapore!

Or, if you’d rather check another museum while you’re here, see our list of the Top 5 Museums to Visit in Singapore.