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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Singapore, an arts and cultural city?

What does Singapore have to offer in the arts and culture scene?
February 8, 2012
By: Farihah Zainal and Priyah Priyah Chanthrasegar
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Singapore, an arts and cultural city? -- PHOTO: THE PRESERVATION OF MONUMENTS BOARD

Singapore is a city with a vibrant cultural and arts background, due to its multi-racial makeup. There are loads to look out for in this fun-filled island; some prominent places of interest include: 

Singapore Arts Museum (SAM)

If you wish to awaken the artist in you, head down to this extended wing of the SAM where you can view the works of local and regional creators. There are six galleries in total here.

Having established links with international museums worldwide, SAM aims to preserve and present art histories and contemporary art practices of Singapore and the Southeast Asian region.

Aptly sited in a restored  19th century mission school building, the museum has collaborated with bigwigs like Louvre Museum, the Centre Pompidou, Guggenheim Museum and Asia Society in New York, to name a few. 

Asian Civilisation Museum (ACM)

Apart from the National Museum of Singapore, this historical museum showcases the ancestry roots of various races in Singapore. ACM houses 11 galleries, with magnificent collections from Chinese, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Islamic and South Asian civilisations.

Images of Singapore

Located in Sentosa, this award-winning museum allows one to interact with exhibits that come with certain 3D features. The exhibits are a reflection of milestones in Singapore’s history, which will delight history and cultural buffs for sure.

National Museum of Singapore (NMS)

The oldest and largest museum in town, NMS was once known as the Raffles Library and Museum when it opened its doors in 1887. Recognised as a cultural and architectural landmark, this 18,400 sq m site houses 11 National Treasures and the Singapore History and Living Galleries.

Besides its galleries, NMS also hosts events and festivals all year long – the most significant being the dynamic and visually arresting Night Festival.

Peranakan Museum

Displaying one of Singapore’s unique cultures, this museum on Armenian Street lets you explore the rich history, traditions and culture of the Straits Chinese & Malays living in Singapore, Malacca and Penang.

Locally known as Peranakan Chinese or baba and nyonya, Straits-born Chinese were a result of intermarriages between the colonial Dutch and local Chinese/Malay community. Many generations later, despite intermarrying Singaporean Chinese, their culture remains intact. Today, many of them still speak in the traditional Peranakan language and cook Peranakan cuisine, both of which are similar to that of the Malay community in Singapore.

The Arts House

Far from its beginnings as Singapore’s first Parliament House, the 200-year-old building now hosts compelling art exhibitions, concerts and plays. It features a fixed array of artistic and literary displays such as Print Gallery, Film Gallery and exhibitions entitled ‘Corridor of Time’ and ‘Personalities’. Its line-up of theatrical showcase every year adds to the uniqueness of this arts and heritage centre.


One of the most popularly-visited and iconic building in Singapore with “thorns” on the façade of the building resembling a durian, this arts house is defined to house theatres on the bay which caters to both indoor and outdoor performances. The esplanade hosts a wide range of local and international gigs every year including well-liked and renowned events such as Mosaic.

Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa is a theme park built by a Chinese-Burmese Typhoon. It was formerly known as Tiger Balm Gardens and houses 1,000 statues which date back to Confucius practices and ideologies. With the recent launch of a new MRT nearby, one can now access this nearly-forgotten but quaint enclave conveniently.

Singapore Arts Festival

Organised by Singapore’s National Arts Council, this annual event aims to give the public a chance to experience theatre, the arts, dance, music, visual arts and other cross-media genre for themselves. The festival also encourages arts enthusiasts to volunteer their services, as part of its integration program.

Singapore Biennale

The Singapore Biennale was first introduced as part of the lineup of events for Singapore in 2006 in support of the 61st annual meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Now held every 2 or 3 years, the last Singapore Biennale in 2011 saw more than 880,000 visitors. This event features more than 50 artists from all over the world. It is definitely the IT event for art lovers, who are able to immerse in activities and exhibitions pertaining to drawings, paintings, installations, new media, performances, photography, video, publishing, sound, wall painting, and furniture.

Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF)

The internationally-acclaimed SIFF was first held in 1987 to promote independent and non-commercial films to local audiences. Over the years, it has achieved recognition from film critics worldwide for its focus on Asian filmmakers and the promotion of non-mainstream Southeast Asian films. It has also helped to pave the way for Singapore’s film industry, as well as provide an international showcase for (otherwise obscure) Asian cinematography.




Tang treasures at hotel