For such a small nation, Singapore packs in a huge variety of cultures, traditions and hundreds of years of history. Located in South East Asia, just across the border from Malaysia, the days of Singapore being home to tiny fishing villages are long gone. These days, it’s a thriving metropolitan hub with futuristic architecture, sustainable green spaces and a world-class dining scene. Over the years, people from Malaysia, China, India, the UAE and beyond have made their home here, giving way to a mix of ethnicities and heritage reflected in the city’s historic museums.
In addition to looking at the past, the present and future are just as on display, from ultra-modern science museums to abstract art and sculptures and museums for everything from toys to insects! On top of this, Singapore’s history is interwoven with periods of war and military celebration, demonstrated at their Civil Defence and Air Force Museums. The tropical climate means most days are sunny, but monsoon rain isn’t unheard of. If you’re caught in bad weather or want a taste of the history and culture, you’ll find something for everyone in one of the museums in Singapore.
- Museums in Singapore
- Top Tours
- 20 Singapore Museums To Discover History
- 1- National Gallery
- 2- National Museum of Singapore
- 3- ArtScience Museum
- 4- TrickEye Museum
- 5- Natural History Museum
- 6- Singapore Art Museum
- 7- Red Dot Design Museum
- 8- Fort Siloso
- 9- Children’s Museum Singapore
- 10- Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
- 11- Buddhist Cultural Museum
- 12- Chinese Opera Museum
- 13- Indian Heritage Centre
- 14- Singapore Science Centre
- 15- Singapore Discovery Centre
- 16- MINT Museum of Toys
- 17- Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum
- 18- Madame Tussauds
- 19- Vintage Camera Museum
- 20- Singapore Air Force Museum
Museums in Singapore
- Singapore: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 40+ Attractions – save money if you plan to stay for a few days.
- Singapore: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour – an easy way to get around in your own time.
- Singapore: Museum of Ice Cream Entrance Ticket – a fun museum especially for kids.
20 Singapore Museums To Discover History
1- National Gallery
Singapore’s most famous museum, the National Gallery in the Civic District, houses a beautiful collection of contemporary Singaporean and South East Asian artwork.
The National Gallery is within Singapore’s former Supreme Court, so the building is something to admire.
Inside are over 8,000 exhibits from the 19th century until today, both by local artists and those from Indonesia and Vietnam, along with famous names such as Yayoi Kusama.
A perfect introduction to the city’s museum scene, there are tours and workshops throughout the year, and they’ve recently opened the Keppel Centre for Art Education.
The centre is aimed at families and children who can take part in immersive art classes and learning experiences.
Skip the line and book your Singapore: National Gallery Entry Tickets
2- National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is the country’s largest and oldest museum comprising all things history.
It’s made up of two galleries, the Singapore History Gallery and the Singapore Living Gallery, which are fairly self-explanatory.
The former houses exhibits and artefacts dating back to the 14th century, while the latter celebrates food, fashion and photography in modern-day Singapore.
The beautiful 19th-century exterior is impressive, and its immersive exhibitions, art installations and performances are the best way to learn as much as possible about Singapore’s past and present.
3- ArtScience Museum
Instantly recognisable on the Singapore skyline in Marina Bay, the ArtScience Museum looks a little like a flower but is meant to resemble a welcoming hand with ten fingers.
Inside this architectural wonder are 21 galleries over three stories that contain futuristic exhibits merging art and science.
It features a rotation of world-renowned exhibitions from international galleries such as the Smithsonian and many unique and sometimes bizarre displays.
Previous exhibitions have included The Deep, the largest display of deep-sea creatures on earth, and its permanent display, FutureWorld, which contains 1,500sq/ft of interactive exhibits about science and nature.
Skip the line and book your Singapore: ArtScience Museum Entry Ticket
4- TrickEye Museum
Traditional museums aren’t all that’s on offer in Singapore; this one really stands out.
The TrickEye Museum is in Sentosa and is fun for all the family.
Offering six exciting zones with different themes, such as the safari and circus zones, the entire museum is filled with strange optical illusions, paintings and mirrors to bend the mind and entertain your day.
Kids will love the 4D artwork, and the wacky Excitement and Fantasy themed areas offer great photo opportunities against crazy backdrops.
Stop here for an eventful afternoon if you’re visiting Sentosa’s Resort World anyway (and families definitely should!).
Skip the line and book your Sentosa: Trick Eye Museum Entrance Ticket
5- Natural History Museum
Known as the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, this museum was the first-ever museum of natural history in Southeast Asia.
It spans over 2,500 sqm and is home to 15 zones, covering every imaginable plant and animal species across Southeast Asia.
Some cooler things to see here include 150-million-year-old fossils in the Dinosaur Zone, a rare species of tree after which Singapore’s Changi neighbourhood was named, and the only leatherback turtle ever to have been found in Singaporean waters.
6- Singapore Art Museum
Art lovers will be right at home in Singapore’s major Art Museum (SAM), the main wing of which is located along Bras Basah Road, while its newest space is in the Tanjong Pagar Distripark.
The museum contains arguably the most important collection of Southeast Asian contemporary art in the world, housed in a beautiful historic building formerly a Catholic school.
Every art style is celebrated here, with constantly changing and rotating artwork and artists featured in the museum’s exhibits.
Experimental experiences and workshops are also available, so set aside half a day to explore if you’re passionate about art.
7- Red Dot Design Museum
Another museum within the central Marina Bay district, the Red Dot Design Museum, may ring a bell if you’ve visited Germany.
An offshoot of Germany’s museum of the same name in Essen, this museum displays products and designs from the winners of the renowned Red Dot Product Design Awards.
The awards celebrate industrial design, with over 2,000 exhibits now making up the collection, all previous awards winners, which visitors can browse at leisure.
The shop is also a great reason to visit, selling locally designed, quirky products, while the museum cafe is also the ideal place to recover with a hot drink and some cake.
8- Fort Siloso
On Sentosa Island, those interested in Singapore’s war history will find the country’s biggest World War II memorabilia collection.
During your visit, you can take a tram through the different battle stages, with key waxwork figures and film clips bringing history to life.
Visitors of all ages can enjoy themselves and be educated here, thanks to the still-standing structure of the fort itself.
Climb through historic tunnels, see original cannons and guns, and explore the underground tunnels to get a real vision of life during the Japanese occupation.
Also, join one of the free guided tours, which take place twice a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
9- Children’s Museum Singapore
Although plenty of museums are great for entertaining kids, a dedicated museum specifically for children is just the ticket if you’re not sure what to do on a family day out.
Located in the central Civic District, the Children’s Museum was recently transformed and was formerly known as the Philatelic Museum.
The huge colonial building now contains a fun permanent exhibition, a range of activities, and immersive exhibits encouraging playfulness and discovery.
The permanent exhibition entails a time-travel journey through history, while other galleries offer a nature-inspired garden display, a giant playpen for younger children and a variety of arts and crafts workshops.
Skip the line and book your Singapore: Museum of Ice Cream Entrance Ticket for the kids.
10- Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
Possibly one of the coolest museums in Singapore, if only thanks to its location in a bright red, colonial fire station, the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery, unsurprisingly, displays everything there is to know about Singapore’s civil defence throughout the years.
Adults and kids alike will love the range of fire trucks on display, which date from the 19th Century until today, along with the recreations of real live fire operations and other modern-day equipment used by Singapore’s Defence Force.
Visitors can also climb the hose tower, which offers lovely views or enjoy a guided museum tour between Tuesdays and Sundays.
Different types of museums around the world:
11- Buddhist Cultural Museum
Also known as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum here, you can discover rare artefacts surrounding the history of Buddhism and other religious practices throughout Asia.
Located in Chinatown, the temple is unsurprisingly named after the Buddha’s tooth, supposedly found in India and is now on display on the temple grounds.
Inside the Cultural Museum is also a giant gold stupa made with 320kg of gold, which holds the tooth relic, plus there is a small theatre that hosts local performances and film screenings.
The best way to see the temple and museum is on one of the free guided tours available every day except Sundays.
12- Chinese Opera Museum
A more unusual but no less fascinating museum, the Singapore Chinese Opera Museum does largely what it says on the tin.
Started by Mr. Hui Bin, who decided to educate Singaporeans on the art of Chinese opera, the museum details the history, techniques and styles of Chinese opera, such as Cantonese, Fujian and Yue, spanning more than one hundred years.
The museum is located in the trendy, popular district of Kampong Glam on the second floor of a traditional shophouse, and visitors can also see the props and costumes used in famous opera performances and from Southern China,
13- Indian Heritage Centre
Singapore has a rich Indian heritage and a large Indian population, as you’ll discover if you visit the thriving neighbourhood of Little India, which, much like the country, is home to busy markets, bustling curry houses and brightly coloured shophouses.
The fascinating museum traces the heritage of Indians and South Asians in Singapore through history and is a contrastingly modern structure in the heart of this old-style neighbourhood.
The permanent galleries have five themes, explaining the history of Indians in Singapore from the 1st Century CE up until the 21st century through artefacts, exhibits and artwork.
14- Singapore Science Centre
Slightly different to the country’s ArtScience Museum, the Singapore Science Centre is super family-friendly and is purely dedicated to all things science in a fun way.
Everything from natural life to physics, space and everything in between.
There is a whole range of interactive, immersive exhibits, such as star gazing, experiencing fear – try public speaking if you dare, and a huge, domed OmniTheatre which features a five-storey IMAX cinema screen for watching in-depth film screenings about wild and prehistoric life.
One of the best spaces to visit is SnowCity, where despite Singapore’s hot climate, you can go snow-tubing and see ice sculptures.
Skip the line and book your Singapore: Science Center E-Ticket
15- Singapore Discovery Centre
The Singapore Discovery Centre in Jurong West is an exciting all-around experience celebrating everything about Singapore life and history via interactive exhibits.
These include the Visionarium with a 360-degree screen, a 3D cinema, a laser tag arena and a huge 2-storey escape room.
There’s also a 4D simulator ride, paintball arena, pedal boats and a bus tour, so leave a full day for your visit and book in advance because there are endless things to enjoy here, especially on a rainy day or if you’re travelling with kids.
16- MINT Museum of Toys
An unusual but fun experience for adults and kids, the MINT Museum of Toys houses a collection of more than 50,000 vintage toys.
From Singapore and overseas, classic and rare toys are displayed here, divided into themed areas, such as Childhood Favourites, Collectibles and Characters.
Unique and precious toys, such as an Alice in Wonderland Doll owned by the child who inspired the novel, stand alongside more popular toys from the Disney and Star Wars franchises.
There’s also an excellent shop and rooftop bar, plus a ‘Listening Bistro’ celebrating vintage vinyl records – for when the parents need to take a break from toys.
17- Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum
Yet another of Singapore’s most weird and wonderful museums, the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, is home to exactly what you’d expect.
More than 200 turtles and tortoises comprising 60 species are ready for you to admire.
There’s a petting corner for children, where some more friendly species can be seen up close and personal.
However, turtles and reptiles aren’t to be messed with, such as alligator turtles, snapping turtles and Elongate tortoises.
A bizarre six-legged tortoise and many terrapins wander freely around the park area, hopefully waiting for you to feed them.
18- Madame Tussauds
Whether or not you’ve visited a Madame Tussauds elsewhere, the famous museum which houses extremely lifelike, although often comical, waxwork figures of famous people is always a fun place to visit.
At the Singapore outlet, world-famous faces feature alongside local celebrities from Asia and Bollywood.
The museum also houses Madame Tussaud’s first boat ride, the Spirit of Singapore, while elsewhere inside, you can walk along a red carpet, visit the 4D cinema or take photos with your favourite celebs!
For entry, get the Singapore: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 40+ Attractions
19- Vintage Camera Museum
If you love cameras or photography, or just like wacky buildings, Singapore’s Vintage Camera Museum is the perfect place to visit since the museum is housed in a giant camera.
Over 1000 vintage cameras are on display, from ancient-looking DSLRs to the world’s biggest camera and the world’s tiniest pinhole spy camera.
Walking stick cameras, a pigeon camera and 3D cameras are also exhibited, along with a beautiful array of photographs relating to the history of photography, including a replica of the first photograph ever taken.
20- Singapore Air Force Museum
The Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum is dedicated to the history of Singapore’s widely celebrated Air Force, which began at Changi Air Base in 1988.
Within the museum are nine galleries showcasing a range of artefacts, displays and interactive games which help visitors learn all about air travel and the military.
The outside is equally impressive, displaying a range of aircraft, jets, missiles and aircraft systems, including a 1975 Skyhawk and various helicopters.
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