There are some interesting things that are right on our doorstep; so, why not start with a museum? Here are a handful of Singapore’s more unusual ones.
Singapore Musical Box Museum
Yep, there’s a museum devoted wholly to musical boxes! Why? Well, musical boxes – instruments that make sound when pins on a revolving cylinder pluck at a steel comb – were popular in Europe in the 19th century; a precursor of the jukebox, if you like! And Singapore played a prominent role in bringing the instruments to Southeast Asia. The ticket price of $12 includes a compulsory 40-minute tour showcasing a variety of musical boxes: big, small, each with its own story. When you’re done, you can also pop next door to Thien Hock Keng (Tianfu Temple), built in 1839.
Where: 168 Telok Ayer Street
When: 10am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday (pre-booking required)
NUS Baba House
This three-storey townhouse was once the ancestral home of a Peranakan Chinese family. It’s been meticulously restored so that a walk through the open courtyard, reception hall, kitchen and private spaces feels like stepping back in time. A third floor was added to the original dwelling around a century or so ago; it’s now used as a gallery for exhibitions and projects pertaining to traditional Peranakan culture.
Where: 157 Neil Road
When: Heritage tours by appointment only, Tuesday to Friday, 10am; self-guided tours are on Saturday, between 1pm to 4pm
Second World War buff? You’ll love the Battlebox. Built in 1936, this was the former WWII British command centre buried inside Fort Canning Hill – it was inside the Battlebox that the British made the decision to surrender to the invading Japanese on 15 February 1942. Visits are free-and-easy and docents will share interesting highlights of key rooms. Get your tickets at the Battlebox Visitor Centre.
Where: 2 Cox Terrace, Fort Canning Park
When: Wednesdays to Sundays, 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Images of Singapore LIVE
Ever wonder what Singapore looked like long before MBS and Takashimaya were a part of the landscape? Images of Singapore LIVE shows you just that by taking you on a journey from humble fishing village to 21st-century powerhouse. Experience the sights, sounds – and, yes – even the smells of yesteryear. The 45-minute, actor-led attraction features 11 themed areas with live action, special effects and even a boat ride.
Where: Sentosa (next to Madame Tussaud’s)
When: 11am to 8.30pm daily, last show at 7pm
Singapore Sports Museum
Dedicated to telling the stories of the nation’s sporting history, achievements and aspirations, the Singapore Sports Museum is the first sports-related museum on the island – a great one for fans of the Olympic Games, football and some less traditional sports. You can also tour Shimano Cycling World, with a collection of bicycles you can pull out one by one. There are also some cool interactive digital exhibitions.
Where: Singapore Sports Hub
When: Weekdays 10am to 8pm, weekends and holidays 10am to 9pm
Three more of Singapore’s quirkiest museums are currently getting a makeover.
- Singapore Philatelic Museum: Set to reopen in 2021, the SPM is converting to a dedicated children’s museum aimed at ages 12 and under, with stamps being just one feature.
- The Air Force Museum: A great spot for anyone into fighter jets, missiles and more, this museum is closed for renovations until further notice.
- MINT Museum of Toys: Known for its 8,000 items of vintage toys from around the world, MINT is upgrading “to provide you with a better experience”.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section.