The many well-done museums in Singapore offer a more cultural alternative to the malls when those afternoon pop-up showers throughout the year send people scurrying for cover.
Most of the museums are clustered fairly close together with only a five-minute walk between each. At least two or three could be slowly enjoyed for a leisurely, educational day.
Serious enthusiasts can weigh the benefits of purchasing one of the multi-day passes that include other attractions such as boat tours or Universal Studios entrance. The passes will save you money if you intend to see lots of museums and other attractions or wish to return to some museums more than once.
Enjoying numerous museums won't make you Singa-poor. Pretty well every museum in Singapore offers discounts for seniors, students, and groups. Many museums are free on late Friday evenings, and some have free admission during holidays and special events.
Although Singapore wasn't always known for its progressive or contemporary art, the Singapore Art Museum proves otherwise. The exhibits are an exercise in the human bounds of imagination.
The museum houses the world's largest collection of modern Southeast Asian art. From film to experimental media, you won't find the typical stuffy oil paintings here!
The museum itself is a work of art. Opened in 1996, the art museum is inside a 19th-century mission school that was converted for the purpose.
The Singapore Art Museum offers free guided tours during the week; call +65 66979776.
- Admission: S$6 / students get half off
- Hours: Monday to Sunday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Open until 9 p.m. on Fridays
- Get There: Located at 8 Queen Street — three minutes walking from the Bras Basah MRT stop; ten minutes walking from City Hall MRT
- Promotions: Admission is free on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The National Museum of Singapore is Singapore's oldest museum, dating back to 1887.
The National Museum more or less covers the inception of Singapore along with cultural interests and patriotic matters. Crowds often gather to watch the mesmerizing light show projected onto the side of the white building in the evenings.
Festivals and events are regularly held on the grounds of the museum. It's the kind of place you can walk up on and accidentally catch an impressive short film or documentary.
- Admission: S$15 / students get in for S$10
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; some galleries closer a little earlier
- Get There: Five-minute walk from the Bras Basah MRT station; ten-minute walk from the City Hall MRT station; five-minute walk from the Singapore Art Museum
- Promotions: The National Museum of Singapore arranges free guided tours: Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
What the heck is a philately and why is there a museum?
Philately is the study of stamps and postage history. The Singapore Philatelic Museum focuses on stamps and everything postal yet somehow manages to keep a visit interesting.
People have been coming since 1995! Even if stamp collecting isn't one of your hobbies, the photos on the stamps all relate to historic events and happenings of cultural significance.
Before leaving the museum, try printing your own personalized stamps to give as souvenirs.
- Admission: S$8
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Get There: Located at 23-B Coleman Street — five minutes walking from the Bras Basah MRT station; ten minutes walking from the Peranakan Museum.
- Promotions: People with disabilities and their caregivers get in for free.
The sprawling Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore deserves a dedicated afternoon all to itself.
The museum traces the cultural histories of not just Singapore but nearly all of Asia. Displays are well constructed and presented beautifully. Anyone can spend hours inside of the Asian Civilizations Museum learning more about the region. People of Asian descent can learn a lot about their heritage.
The museum offers free guided tours; call +65 6332-2982.
- Admission: S$20
- Hours: Monday to Sunday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; open until 9 p.m. on Fridays
- Get There: Five-minute walk from the Raffles MRT station; 15-minute walk from the Singapore Philatelic Museum
- Promotions: Students and seniors pay S$15
The Red Dot Design Museum is a must for anyone interested in the nuances of contemporary design, aesthetics, and inventions.
The prestigious Red Dot award is awarded to only the top designers in the world. If you've ever wondered what the products of the future will look like, this museum will provide some clues.
In 2017, the Red Dot Design Museum moved to a stunning new location in Marina Bay.
- Admission: S$6
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; open until 11 p.m. on weekends.
- Get There: Located in Marina Bay.
The Peranakan Museum is considered the authority on Peranakan culture in the world. The museum is housed inside a former Chinese school constructed in 1912.
Also known as Straits Chinese, the Peranakans were the early Chinese immigrants to Indonesia during the 15th and 16th centuries who eventually settled in Malaysia and Singapore. Their colorful shop houses, clan houses, and temples are beautifully done and celebrated with pride.
The Peranakan Museum hosts collections of artifacts, furniture, and era clothing.
- Admission: S$10
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; open until 9 p.m. on Fridays
- Get There: Located at 39 Armenian Street — a five-minute walk from the Bras Basah MRT station; a five-minute walk from the National Museum of Singapore
- Promotions: Free admission during festivals. Friday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is only S$5