16 Hidden Local Museums in Singapore for an Out-Of-The-Ordinary Experience
Every country has its set of traditional museums that appear on the usual travel guide lists. But perhaps it’s not your first rodeo in Singapore and you’re searching for a local museum experience that also adds a bit of magic, or at least, is unique in what it has to offer.
Ever played on the original Super Nintendo or seen hospital tools they used back before modern medicine (warning!)? Check out these hidden museums around the city for a different trip to the museum.
1. Ever wondered what it was like when cinemas first opened? : The Cathay Gallery
Calling all film freaks and fanatics! Did you know that hidden away on the second level of The Cathay is a secret film museum?!
If you love old movies, check out the walls filled with old-school film posters, vintage projectors and cameras, antique cinema chairs and a whole bunch of movie memorabilia to take you down memory lane!
2. Singapore’s first museum entirely dedicated to the analogue camera era: Vintage Camera’s Museum
Photography your passion or favourite pastime? You’ll find yourself drooling over the somewhat 1000 vintage cameras displayed in cases across shelves, from old-school spy cameras to pistol cams.
And you can’t miss this spot that’s for sure – the building itself is shaped like a camera (a Rollei to be exact), which just happens to be as we put it these days “totally insta-worthy”.
3. Ever seen the original Xbox?: JCU Museum of Video and Computer Games
We know this one will perk the interests of many – both young and old…If you’re a tech genius or are hooked on your games, check out this (epic) museum and indulge yourself in the history of Video and Computer Games in SEA.
Not just that, there are the original consoles housed here, which you can play, including the very-first Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Xbox as well as tons of rare games and vintage consoles.
4. Bring your little Beethoven or your musical love: Singapore Musical Box Museum
Whether you play the piano, are studying music or simply can’t leave the house without music playing in your ears, you’ve got to check out this museum which showcases antique musical boxes and various related items to the industry.
Guided tours are compulsory here, which works out in your favour, and learn about the history of musical boxes from your expert!
5. Original underground Command Centre 9 metres below!: The Battlebox
WWII fans and history-boffs…This space in fact dates back to 1935 during the times of WWII and just that is historical in itself.
Originally this is the spot where the British surrendered Singapore to Japan in 1942, but today it’s home to a restored museum filled with a maze of rooms containing artefacts, wartime recreations and even shows.
6. Educate yourself on these tiny insects: The Singapore Ant Museum
Hey, believe it or not, some people love the exploration of insects, and ants are super fascinating creatures after all!
Plus, it’s not often you see someone paying ode to ants, and this two-storey museum is solely dedicated to the little critters. It’s filled with interactive displays and exhibitions of over 50 different native species, as well as ant farms to check-out!
7. The original building was constructed in 1926 : Former Ford Factory
What was once South East Asia’s first-ever Ford motorcar plant can now be visited today and marks an important part of history.
But it’s not just the name that gives this building its credits…In WWII, the factory was turned into a facility grounds for fighter planes and military vehicles and today the museum contains a WWII exhibition that takes a look back at this time.
8. Private gallery tours to learn about Peranakan Chinese Culture: Katong Antique House
After the owner and curator, Peter Wee spent decades collecting antique items and collectables that are pivotal to the Peranakan Chinese culture, he decided to share his world with the public.
Authenticity at its finest, Wee inherited the 100-year old shophouse from his mom, turning this into a scene to represent a typical Peranakan Chinese household back in the day, now also home to all of his incredible, unique antiques and items.
9. All the nostalgic feels in an international award-winning contemporary building: Mint Museum of Toys
Listen, it’s not only the kids who might go a bit wild when they get a hold of this insane museum that houses bunches of vintage toys and collectable items, and you’ll feel you’re inner-child come out immediately.
The walls are lined with retro posters, and all your favourite toys and beloved characters from the past line the shelves and glass cabinets. From the Flinstones to vintage aeroplane models, the entire family will have a field day here!
10. From Olympic medals to celebrity sports memorabilia: Singapore Sports Museum
Serious about sports? It’s not often you get the opportunity to check out famous sports artefacts, let alone 800 of them all in one room!
If you’re keen to learn about the history and heritage of sports in Singapore head to this museum with a few different galleries that showcases just that. PLUS this museum contains some pretty famous items such as Adidas official match balls from the FIFA World Cup.
11. Guinness World Record for the largest collection of turtles and tortoises: The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum
We love an institute with a good cause, and this turtle sanctuary and museum are only doing good things for the aquatic world.
Home to around 700 different types of turtles and tortoises including a bunch of rare kinds (Alligator turtle or the Pig Nose Flying Turtle), we love that the reptiles are allowed to wander around freely in a large open space. Learn about the animals and get the chance to feed them too, but please don’t pick them up! <3
12. Learn about the development of Chinese Opera in the country: Singapore Chinese Opera Museum
There are tons of places that celebrate the different diverse cultures, and traditional activities, found around the city of Singapore, but you can’t say there are many that solely focus on the celebration of Chinese Opera.
Look back over 100 years through this museum’s exhibition, including historical facts and photos of past Chinese Opera troupes, beautifully embellished costumes and beautiful hand-crafted artworks displaying the singers in action all those years ago.
13. Come meet the real-life dinosaurs Prince, Twinky and Apollonia: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Always dreamt of what it must have been like to see a real-live/life dinosaur all those thousands of years ago??? Or maybe you’ve got a budding palaeontologist on your hands?
What is actually South East Asia’s first-ever Natural History Museum now also hosts three real dinosaur skeletons that were discovered between 2007 and 2010 in a tiny town in the USA called Ten Sleep, Wyoming.
Apart from the dinos, there are many levels here that exhibit a plethora of other incredible facets of our Natural World.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Price: From SGD 15 for local and permanent resident adults, SGD 20 for non-resident adults, SGD 8 local and permanent resident children, SGD 12 for non-resident children
Address: 2 Conservatory Dr, Singapore 117377 (Map)
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm (Closed Tuesdays)
14. For a look back into Singapore’s traditions: The Intan
Book a tour at this authentic, private shophouse run by curator Alvin Yapp and although the entire setup is a museum in itself, this is also Mr Yapp’s personal home and living space.
Revelling in all things Peranakan, take a glimpse into the past through the colourful artefacts up the stairways and around rooms, the beautifully embroidered handicrafts, and antique furniture. And it’s not just a tour, but you also get to experience traditional foods with either tea, lunch or dinner – depending on what time of day you’re visiting.
15. Not for the faint-hearted: Singapore General Hospital Museum
We’re not gonna lie, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those with a strong stomach, and that enjoy a bit of gore every now and then and all things creepy, you’re gonna wanna visit this hospital museum.
Check out old-fashioned equipment, some of it really horrific, such as an amputating saw used for chopping off gangrenous limbs in the early 1900s.
16. An interactive heritage gallery: Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery
A pretty new contender on the block, this spot only opened up in 2019 but it jubilates in all things from the past, specifically the Kreta Ayer and Chinatown areas in the city.
Fun fact: This area was known for Chinese opera, puppetry, painting, calligraphy and of course, tea-drinking, and you can learn all about its rich history here, as well as check out various displays that explain this in visual form.
Pretty interesting right? As humans we naturally love to learn and discover and what better way, and for all ages!
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