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20 ways to get cultured in Singapore

Check out museums, art galleries, and free performances in our public spaces

Artscience museum, Future World
Photo: Teamlab

Despite being a young nation, Singapore is steeped in history and heritage. Here’s what we love about the city’s art and culture scene.

Asian Civilisations Museum
Things to do

Appreciate art and history at Asian Civilisation Museum

icon-location-pin City Hall

What is it? One of Singapore's largest and most impressive museums with seven galleries showcasing more than 2,000 artefacts from the civilisations of China, South-East Asia, South Asia and West Asia.

Why go? The first floor of galleries charts the story of trade across the region, while the second floor presents systems of faith and belief and the third features materials and design used in Chinese ceramics from the Han to the Qing dynasty.

Don’t miss: The museum often holds special themed events and guided tours.

Esplanade Theatres on the Bay

Take a secret tour at the Esplanade

icon-location-pin City Hall

What is it? A performing arts wonderland, the iconic durian-looking landmark houses a 1,600-seat concert hall and a 2,000-seat theatre. It also has a dedicated library, art and music shops, restaurants and bars, as well as an outdoor theatre.

Why go? The Esplanade opens its doors to visitors who are eager to have a closer look at the world-class space. Uncover how the concert hall is engineered to keep out even the slightest external noise and vibration. Be amazed at how the hall, which has hosted renowned musicians from all around the globe, can be adjusted to mimic the acoustics of a tiny room or a large cathedral.

Don’t miss: Discover local bands playing against the backdrop of the stunning bay at the spacious outdoor theatre every Sundays.

ArtScience Museum

Zoom into the future at ArtScience Museum

icon-location-pin Marina Bay

What is it? A lotus-shaped museum located within the Marina Bay Sands showcasing high-tech artworks that seamlessly weaves art, science, design, architecture and technology.

Why go? Observe how the two seemingly contrasting entities – art and science – come together in the world’s first ArtScience Museum. Open your mind to the futuristic sphere of cutting-edge interactive installations and explore how art and science shape the world that we live in.

Don’t miss: Check out Future World, the ArtScience Museum's permanent exhibition featuring immersive digital artworks by award-winning Japanese art collective teamLab. Enter a room filled with over 170,000 LED lights that change colours, as well as an 8-metre-tall digital waterfall whose water particles tumble down logs in accordance with the laws of physics.

Indian Heritage Centre
Photo: Indian Heritage Centre
Museums, Cultural centre

Get cultured at Indian Heritage Centre

icon-location-pin Rochor

What is it? With a glowing glass façade inspired by stepwells that are commonly found in South Asia, the Indian Heritage Centre is a museum with a wealth of artifacts dotted around its five galleries.

Why go? It documents and explores the history and culture of Indians, especially in relation to Singapore, all the way from the 1st century to the present day.

Don’t miss: Rediscover Peranakan Indian communities through old photographs, letters and stories in the Chetti Melaka of the Straits special exhibition. 

The Intan
Things to do, Walks and tours

Become a homebody at the Intan

icon-location-pin Geylang

What is it? This private Peranakan home-museum in Joo Chiat gives visitors a taste of old-world Peranakan charm during its Tea Tour, which touches on Peranakan history, culture and even embroidery craft.

Why go? Learn more about the Peranakan culture through the extensive collection of antiques, artefacts and rare gems. You can also book the Intan tour which lasts 90 minutes for tea or three hours for an authentic Nonya dinner. Trust us – once you step into The Intan, chances are you won’t ever want to leave.

Don’t miss: The tour starts at $45 for a minimum of six people but do book an appointment prior to the visit. The Intan is also known to host private parties, book launches and small concerts. 

Mint Museum
Photo: Albert Lim K S
Things to do

Relive your salad days at Mint Museum Of Toys

icon-location-pin City Hall

What is it? Home to a world-class collection of vintage toys and collectable items. 

Why go? Revisit your good ol’ childhood memories and ignite your child-like wonder with the thousands of toys and items on display throughout its four levels. 

Don’t miss: The ever-changing toy exhibitions that are tailored to the different seasons. Check out their festive toy exhibitions and public talks by renowned toy makers and collectors.

National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Heritage Board
Things to do

Explore the past at National Museum of Singapore

icon-location-pin City Hall

What is it? The largest museum in the city, it comprises two main galleries – the National Museum of Singapore History Gallery and Modern Colony Gallery – that takes you back to Singapore's past.

Why go? The Singapore History Gallery, which traces the history of Singapore from its beginnings in the 14th century to the present day, and the Singapore Living Galleries, which focus on four lifestyle themes – food, fashion, film and photography. It’s also worth a visit just for the building, an imposing neoclassical structure, complemented by modern glass additions.

Don’t miss: Look out for film screenings, massive art installations and more at its lush outdoors.

The Star Theatre

Sneak backstage at the Star Theatre

icon-location-pin Buona Vista

What is it? This horseshoe-shaped auditorium opens its stage to a wide selection of music, theatre and dance performances, and more. 

Why go? Ever wondered what happens when the likes of Ed Sheeran and Nick Jonas come to Singapore to perform? Go behind the scenes with the front of house and backstage tour by The Star. Listen up as the guides share juicy stories of stars like Jason Mraz and Tony Bennett.

Don’t miss: Get an insider’s look into the dressing rooms, backstage area and special crew access zones of the theatre.

The Cathay Gallery
Things to do

Experience movie magic at the Cathay Gallery

icon-location-pin City Hall

What is it? This hidden gem atop the Cathay Cineplex is a time capsule of movie memorabilia: think antique cinema chairs, cameras and film projectors.

Why go? Film buffs can geek out over the gallery’s permanent exhibition, which includes a wall papered with vintage film posters of the most iconic flicks in cinematic history, such as the animated classic The Jungle Book and The Sound of Music.

Don’t miss: Get acquainted with the Loke family who were pioneers of the film industry in Singapore and founders of the Cathay Organisation at the Cathay Gallery. While you’re there, be sure to check out the black-and-white trailer for the Cathay-produced horror flick from 1957, Pontianak.

Third Floor - Hermès

Get a designer art fix at Hermès

icon-location-pin Orchard

What is it? Situated on the third floor of the high-end designer store, this art space only opens whenever they have shows or exhibitions going on. 

Why go? The exhibitions held here are generally site-specific installations, and ironically, feature some of the most interesting and conceptual pieces around. Hermès art spaces can also be found in Berlin, Tokyo and New York.

Don’t miss: Watch the space for special multi-sensorial showcases that incorporate visuals, sounds and more. Past exhibitions include Jeremy Sharma's aural display, Fidelity.

Double Contrasts by Choo-San Goh
Photo: Tan Ngiap Heng

Learn grace and poise at Singapore Dance Theatre

What is it? Singapore's first dance ballet academy.

Why go? Witness firsthand the blood, sweat and tears that go into the art of ballet at Singapore Dance Theatre’s One @ the Ballet. 

Don’t miss: The in-studio dance display happens once a month on Saturdays at 1pm and each session is narrated by artistic director Janek Schergen to give viewers a deeper understanding of the art form.

Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage
Photo: Singapore Botanic Gardens
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Watch an outdoor concert at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

icon-location-pin Tanglin

What is it? Situated on an islet in the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Symphony Lake, the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage is an idyllic venue for open-air concerts, with the audience sitting at the water’s edge.

Why go? It hosts a myriad of musical performances and makes an ace spot for an evening of classical music, acapella shows, intimate acoustics and throwback tunes. 

Don’t miss: Free live performances such as the NParks Concert Series in the Park, Garden Sounds and Music Day Out. Just remember to BYOB (bring your own blanket)!

Malay Heritage Centre
Things to do

Live like royalty at the Malay Heritage Centre

icon-location-pin Rochor

What is it? This 160-year-old building used to be the royal seat and palace of the last Sultan of Singapore but now houses the rich heritage of Singapore’s Malay community with six permanent galleries spanning two levels of the centre.

Why go? Learn all about Kampong Glam’s glory days as a booming port town before Raffles landed in 1819.

Don’t miss: Special events, dance performances and other festivities that showcase Malay culture and heritage. Take a break at the various Malay restaurants dotted around the area as well.

National Library Singapore
Things to do, Literary events

Be a bookworm at National Library

icon-location-pin Rochor

What is it? With a central borrowing library, reference library and a digital library in tow, the National Library which also happens to be the city's biggest aims to be more than just a place for book-reading.

Why go? Showered with architectural awards before it even opened, the building is designed as two towers, linked by walkways and walled almost entirely with glass. The spacious reference section on the upper floors offers great views of the city. There are some small exhibition spaces, and it also houses the Drama Centre, which regularly showcases local productions.

Don’t miss: Check out How to fall in love with classics, a lecture that delves deeper into the world of poetry and literature. Also, check out their other events, tours and plays happening monthly.

Parkview Museum

Let art surprise you at the Parkview Museum

icon-location-pin Rochor

What is it? An obscure, private gallery located within ritzy Parkview Square – aka the 'Gotham City' building.

Why go? The gallery houses the largest collection of Italian art in Asia, as well as an extensive range of contemporary art from across Europe and Asia. It also hosts exclusive exhibitions, themed showcases and guided gallery tours for art aficionados. 

Don’t miss: Pop by to see what's on this month and enjoy a cocktail at Atlas, a gin-focused bar with over 1000 bottles of the spirit, while you're at it.

Tea Chapter
Shopping, Gifts and souvenirs

Sip on tea at Tea Chapter

icon-location-pin Tanjong Pagar

What is it? The oldest and biggest cultural tea house in the heart of Chinatown. , come and immerse yourself in tea workshops with professional tea masters.

Why go? Soak in the rich history of Chinese tea by chatting with grand tea master, Patrick Kang. Come and immerse yourself in tea workshops with professional tea masters.

Don’t miss: Join the Gu Qin performances and sharing sessions that take place frequently. 

DBS Arts Centre

Get theatrical at the KC Arts Centre

icon-location-pin Raffles Place

What is it? A 380-seat space in Robertson Quay, KC Arts Centre is home to the Singapore Repertory Theatre, which heads up The Little Company. 

Why go? Plays staged by the troupe fall into two age categories – under five and six to 12 – and include titles like The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Rapunzel and Three Little Pigs. It’s ideal for drama lovers to introduce your kids to the imaginative world of performance. Expect an hour or two of fun-filled theatrics, with laughs all around and loads of engaging interaction between the actors and the little ones.

Don’t miss: Want to try your hands in theatre? Sign up to its Learning and Engagement programme where the pros hone your skills down to a T, prepping you for the stage.

STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery

Experience world-class printmaking at STPI

icon-location-pin Raffles Place

What is it? Established in 2002, the gallery promotes artistic experimentation in the mediums of print and paper, and boasts contemporary artworks in collaboration with various international curators, collectors and gallerists.

Why go? At its Creative Workshop space, you’ll find artists in residency – both local and international – that challenge conventions in art with lithography, etching, screenprint, papermaking and relief print.

Don’t miss: Keep tabs on their unique workshops as it rotates monthly. 

More ways to get cultured

National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Heritage Board
Things to do

The best museums in Singapore

There’s a lot more diversity than you’d reckon when it comes to museums in Singapore. Besides the usual arts-focused spaces, we’ve rounded up a broad spectrum of other funky collections: toys, optical illusions and more.