Discover the best museums and galleries in Singapore with our comprehensive guide, from the stunning National Gallery Singapore to the interactive ArtScience Museum.
Singapore is home to an array of world-class museums and galleries that showcase both local and international art. From the stunning National Gallery Singapore to the interactive ArtScience Museum, we’ve rounded up the top cultural institutions in the city-state.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for an intellectually stimulating experience, Singapore’s museums and galleries offer something memorable for everyone.
From carefully curated collections of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art at the National Gallery, to specialty museums and cultural heritage centres focusing on niche interests, these institutions contribute to Singapore’s ever-evolving cultural tapestry.
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We’ve broken our list of the best museums into specific niches to help you quickly find the attraction that suits you best.
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History and Heritage
Singapore is renowned for its rich history and multicultural heritage. If you want to explore this further, you won’t want to miss these museums.
From the National Museum of Singapore to the Peranakan Museum, these institutions offer fascinating insights into the diverse cultures and traditions that have shaped Singapore over the centuries.
National Museum of Singapore
If you only have time to visit one museum in Singapore, we recommend the National Museum of Singapore. Here, you can learn the entire history of Singapore in a one-stop shop.
In the Singapore History Gallery, you’ll find a comprehensive exploration of the nation’s history from its beginnings in the 14th century to the present day. The interactive exhibitions take you on a journey through the early days of Singapore via its British rule, Japanese occupation, and eventual independence.
Beyond the permanent galleries, there are also visiting exhibitions to check out.
Asian Civilisations Museum
Dive into the fascinating world of Asian art and history at the Asian Civilisations Museum. This remarkable museum features a wealth of artefacts that trace the cultural connections between various Asian countries, including China, South East Asia, and India.
Expect to be captivated by beautiful sculptures, ceramics, textiles, and more as you uncover the rich and diverse heritage of the region.
Buddhist Cultural Museum
At the Buddhist Cultural Museum, you have the chance to encounter a unique collection of Buddhist artefacts from various parts of Asia and learn the story of the Buddha.
This charming museum is located within the stunning Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown and offers a tranquil space for learning about various Buddhist traditions and cultural practices.
Free admission – it’s one of our favourite free places in Singapore!
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Nature lovers will be delighted by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. Showcasing an impressive display of over 2,000 specimens, the museum highlights Singapore’s rich biodiversity and provides an insight into the natural history of Southeast Asia.
Get ready to be amazed by the collection of dinosaur fossils, preserved plant specimens, and the intriguing stories of the region’s natural heritage.
Finally, immerse yourself in the colourful world of Peranakan culture at the Peranakan Museum. This exquisite space celebrates the unique blend of Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences that make up the Peranakan heritage.
Discover the opulent fashion, intricate crafts, and mouth-watering cuisine that all contribute to the vibrant tapestry of Peranakan culture.
Singapore War Museums
Singapore played a significant role in World War II, and today, several museums and memorials across the city-state pay tribute to the events and individuals who shaped this tumultuous period.
From the harrowing stories of prisoners of war to the bravery of Singapore’s resistance fighters, these museums offer a poignant and educational look at Singapore’s wartime history.
The Changi Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory and legacy of those who endured the Japanese Occupation during World War II.
Here, you will find photographs, artwork, and personal accounts of the prisoners of war, giving you an insight into their lives and hardships.
It’s a great place to learn more about the darker side of Singapore’s history while also paying tribute to the brave souls who fought for their country.
Battle Box at Fort Canning
Another fascinating war site in Singapore is the Battle Box, an underground command centre utilised by the British during World War II.
As you explore the labyrinth of tunnels, you will uncover the history behind the British surrender to Japanese forces in 1942. With realistic wax figures, life-like dioramas, and interactive displays, the Battle Box provides a captivating journey through military history.
Visits are by guided tour only. Click here to book tickets.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu
For an engaging and emotional experience, visit Reflections at Bukit Chandu.
This museum commemorates the heroic efforts of the Malay Regiment soldiers who defended the hill against overwhelming Japanese forces during the Battle of Pasir Panjang.
Through multimedia exhibitions and artefacts, you’ll appreciate the sacrifices and courage of these men while also understanding the strategic importance of the hill during the war.
Take a trip to Fort Siloso, Singapore’s only preserved coastal fort that played a significant role in the country’s coastal defence during the war.
As you stroll through this historic site on Sentosa, you’ll encounter well-preserved WWII-era guns, vibrant murals, and interactive exhibits. All offer insights into the fort’s operations and contributions to the defence of Singapore.
Insider Tip: While you’re here, check out the Fort Siloso Skywalk, an 11-storey high treetop walk that offers panoramic views of the fort and surrounding areas.
Former Ford Factory
It’s a bit further out of town, but if you’re interested in war history, then a visit to the Former Ford Factory is worth the trek.
It was here that the British officially surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, marking a significant point in Singapore’s history.
Now a museum, this historic building showcases exhibitions related to WWII and the effects of the Japanese Occupation. Personal accounts, photographs, and war artefacts offer a broader understanding of the events that unfolded during this tumultuous period.
Singapore Art Galleries
Art lovers, rejoice! Singapore’s vibrant arts scene is on full display at the city-state’s many art galleries. They showcase a diverse range of styles and mediums from both local and international artists.
Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or simply looking to discover something new, Singapore’s art galleries offer a wealth of creative inspiration.
National Gallery Singapore
Step into National Gallery of Singapore and immerse yourself in the most extensive public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art in the world.
Housed in two beautifully restored national monuments – the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings – the gallery showcases over 8,000 artworks from Singapore and the region. These artworks offer a comprehensive look at the evolution of modern art in Asia.
The gallery’s permanent collection is divided into two main areas. The DBS Singapore Gallery explores the history of Singaporean art from the 19th century to the present day, while the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery showcases the diverse art and cultural traditions of Southeast Asia.
In addition to the permanent collection, the National Gallery Singapore hosts a rotating series of temporary exhibitions and special events throughout the year.
At ArtScience Museum, you’ll find an exciting fusion of art, science, design, and technology that promises a unique experience.
The lotus-inspired building hosts cutting-edge exhibitions that constantly challenge and inspire visitors within the iconic Marina Bay Sands complex.
Regardless of what rotating exhibitions are visiting, the immersive experiences of the permanent Future World are always a hit with visitors of all ages. It’s one of our favourite museums if you are visiting Singapore with kids.
Insider tip: Tickets for FutureWorld are based on timed entry. So be sure to pre-purchase tickets to secure your timeslot.
Singapore Art Museum
For contemporary art enthusiasts, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) was Singapore’s first art museum and presents contemporary art from a Southeast Asian perspective.
While the heritage buildings at Bras Basah Road and Queen Street are currently closed for redevelopment, you can still visit SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark for a range of exhibitions.
If you are an art aficionado, the NUS Museum at the National University of Singapore should be on your list of galleries to visit.
The museum is another gallery dedicated to promoting the research and appreciation of Southeast Asian art through its exhibitions and programmes.
With a comprehensive collection of over 8,000 artefacts, the museum offers visitors an enriching experience of diverse artistic expressions from the region.
Once reserved for deliveries and garbage disposal, the laneways are now home to murals and framed art from over 30 local and international artists.
Cultural Heritage Centres
Singapore is rich in cultural diversity, and the local heritage centres are worth visiting to explore and learn more about the different communities that have shaped the nation.
As you explore these cultural heritage centres, you’ll gain a better understanding of Singapore’s multicultural roots. You’ll also learn to appreciate each community’s remarkable achievements in the country’s thriving tapestry.
Indian Heritage Centre
The Indian Heritage Centre takes you on a journey through Singapore’s Indian community history and its contributions to the country’s development.
Located in the vibrant Little India district, the centre features four themed galleries. These exhibit artefacts, photographs, and multimedia displays that reveal the stories of Indian pioneers and their roles in shaping Singapore’s identity.
A must-visit for anyone interested in Indian culture and heritage.
Chinatown Heritage Centre
(currently closed for renovations)
Discover Singapore’s rich Chinese history at the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Nestled in the heart of historic Chinatown, this centre features interactive exhibits and authentic recreations of living spaces from the early 20th century.
Experience what life was like for Chinese immigrants and gain a deeper appreciation of their culture and the hardships they faced to build a better life in Singapore.
Malay Heritage Centre
(currently closed for renovations)
Unveil Malay Singaporeans’ unique heritage and culture at the Malay Heritage Centre.
Located in the Kampong Glam precinct, the centre offers a glimpse into the Malays’ past, boasting six galleries showcasing their traditional cultural values, art, and craftsmanship.
Delve into the evolution of the Malay community and discover their contributions to Singapore’s development and diversity.
NUS Baba House
Lastly, visit the NUS Baba House for an intimate look at Singapore’s Peranakan culture.
Painstakingly restored, this ornate heritage home showcases the intricate details of Peranakan architecture. It also offers a fascinating insight into the daily lives of a prominent Peranakan family.
With guided tours available, you’ll learn about the unique fusion of Chinese, Malay, and European influences that characterise this rich and colourful culture.
Special Interest Museums
If you are looking for something more offbeat, you’ll find a good selection of niche museums in Singapore catering to an eclectic range of interests. We take a closer look here.
Mint Museum of Toys
Discover a fascinating collection of vintage toys at the Mint Museum of Toys.
Here, you’ll find over 50,000 pieces of toys from more than 40 countries, showcasing a wide range of genres and themes. This museum will surely delight you and your inner child, from rare items to nostalgic toys that bring childhood memories.
Red Dot Design Museum
If you’re passionate about design and innovation, the Red Dot Design Museum will captivate your attention.
This museum showcases an extensive display of contemporary designs that have won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award. Explore thought-provoking, innovative exhibits and be inspired by the creativity from around the globe.
Singapore Discovery Centre
Your curiosity will be piqued at the Singapore Discovery Centre. This interactive museum offers diverse exhibits and activities, from historical showcases to experiential learning zones.
Uncover Singapore’s story, learn about its rich culture, and uncover the secrets behind its success.
Singapore Science Centre
For budding science enthusiasts, the Science Centre Singapore is a must-visit. This impressive museum is packed with interactive exhibits covering a range of scientific topics such as robotics, space exploration, and even dinosaur fossils.
With an intent to make learning fun and engaging, this museum offers educational events and activities for all ages, igniting your curiosity and love for science.
Singapore Sports Museum
At the Singapore Sports Museum, you’ll dive into the world of athletics in Singapore. Discover the nation’s sports history, learn about iconic athletes, and celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship.
Explore the exhibits highlighting Singapore’s sports growth, from past achievements to future aspirations.
The Children’s Museum is the perfect place to cultivate your little one’s love for art and culture.
With exhibits and activities catered to young children, this museum offers creative and educational sessions where they can learn about different aspects such as plants, animals, and Asian civilisations.
Vintage Camera Museum
Capture the essence of photography at the Vintage Camera Museum. This unique museum showcases a remarkable collection of over 1,000 rare and antique cameras from around the world.
Delve into the history of photography and marvel at the evolution of cameras through the years.
Singapore Musical Box Museum
Immerse yourself in melodious tunes at the Singapore Musical Box Museum. This charming museum displays an enchanting collection of musical boxes from across the globe.
Learn about the intricate mechanisms that produce beautiful music and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into creating these captivating contraptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The FutureWorld exhibition at the ArtScience Museums is always a hit with kids. The Children’s Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Science Centre and Fort Siloso are other good options. Most museums in Singapore have programmes and activities to make visits for kids more enjoyable.
If you’re an art lover, check out these top art museums in Singapore: the National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, and the ArtScience Museum. These museums showcase a wide array of local and international art pieces guaranteed to leave you inspired.
Many of the museums in Singapore are free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. For visitors to Singapore, the following museums offer free entry: Fort Siloso, the NUS Museum and the Buddhist Cultural Museum.