Think rare masterpieces, historical artefacts, revolutionary sculptures, thought-provoking paintings and cultural relics.
As a booming cultural hub, Singapore has attracted loads of big-name museum exhibitions in recent years, from permanent exhibits with historic Southeast Asian pieces to ground-breaking art exhibitions by famous painters. The best part? Most museums offer free admission to locals and permanent residents. But don’t just pop by museums – the city’s also dotted with independent art galleries with works by established and up-and-coming artists in Singapore.
Best museums in Singapore
National Gallery Singapore
Something major happened in the art world when the National Gallery Singapore opened. It houses the largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art in the world, opened after ten years in the making. And it certainly isn’t a modest place; the building alone is breathtaking, the facilities are state-of-the-art, it’s home to some amazing restaurants and, perhaps most importantly, the stories from within are a reflection Singapore’s history, values and vision. Head to the rooftop garden or rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors for some a-maze-ing fun!
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
National Museum of Singapore
If you want to know more about this little red dot, the National Museum of Singapore is the place to go. Established in 1887, the oldest museum in Singapore delivers Singapore’s history and culture through live performances and modern multimedia exhibits. Permanent galleries to visit include the Singapore History Gallery, which charts the development of the city.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
Combining art, science, design, media, architecture and technology, Art Science Museum has housed notable exhibits and works from iconic artists including Andy Warhol, Salvatore Dali and Leonardo da Vinci. A permanent, must-visit exhibit is Future World, which features interactive digital installations and gets refreshed every few months.
ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974
Mint Museum of Toys
Mint – also known as Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys – is the world’s first purpose-built museum for toys. Its collection is valued over $5 million. That’s a lot of toys! Relive your childhood memories as you browse through the 50,000 vintage playthings collected from different eras including pre-WWII. Check out the Instagram page for interesting tidbits of your favourite toys, too.
Mint Museum of Toys, 26 Seah Street, Singapore 188382
Asian Civilisations Museum
You’ll want to put aside a whole afternoon for this sprawling museum. The Asian Civilisations Museum presents over five thousand years of recorded history through a diverse collection of Asian artefacts, including detailed sculptures of Buddha and the Gandhara culture. Oh, and the museum is located along the Singapore River, so you can grab a beer at Timbre after you’re done.
Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Red Dot Design Museum
This design museum looks like something out of a sci-fi film. Despite its small venue, the museum is THE home for innovation in Singapore, and it showcases award-winning ideas and mind-blowing prototypes across product design, communication design and clever concepts. Check out our throwback video above for a little sneak peek!
Red Dot Design Museum, 11 Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018940
Singapore Musical Box Museum
If inventions pique your interest, a trip to the Singapore Musical Box Museum will transport you to a time when these contraptions reigned. Displayed in a UNESCO heritage building (that used to be a school) next to the iconic Thian Hock Keng temple on Telok Ayer Street, the collection features over 40 antique musical boxes from the 1800s and 1900s. Set up by Naoto Orui, a Japanese collector, it tells you about the rise and fall of this invention. You’ll even get the chance to see a rare Edison Opera phonograph with a wooden horn handmade by Thomas Edison himself. For real!
Singapore Musical Box Museum, 168 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068619
Indian Heritage Centre
A cultural centre and museum rolled into one, this establishment celebrates the heritage of Indian Singaporeans. Sign up for a heritage trail of the bustling Little India precinct, explore the permanent exhibit that traces the history of the Indian community through artefacts and displays, and play traditional Indian games while you’re there.
Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209924
Malay Heritage Centre
Want to learn more about Singapore’s Malay culture and heritage? Swing by the Malay Heritage Centre located at Istana Kampong Glam. It’s an iconic structure that was once the royal seat of the Malay sultans of Singapore. The well-preserved centre is home to historical artefacts, interactive multimedia and exhibits that illustrate the rich history of the community.
Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501
Chinese Heritage Centre
As the name suggests, the Chinese Heritage Centre at Nanyang Technological University focuses on overseas Chinese communities and explores the question of ethnic identity within its 6,000 sq ft permanent exhibit.
Chinese Heritage Centre, Nanyang Technological University, 46 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639817
Vintage Cameras Museum Singapore
If you find a special sort of charm in vintage photography equipment, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Vintage Camera Museum at Jalan Kledek. Founded by businessman Solaiyappan Ramanathan and his artist cousin AP Shreethar, it boasts an incredible collection of over a thousand vintage cameras. The building itself is set in the form of a massive camera, and it holds the distinction of being the world’s biggest camera-shaped building.
Vintage Cameras Museum Singapore, 8C-8D Jalan Kledek, Singapore 199263
Parkview Museum Singapore
Singapore’s very own ‘Gotham City’ building – or as it’s officially called, Parkview Square – houses a contemporary art museum within its ritzy Art Deco premises. The private gallery hosts exhibitions focusing on contemporary art, alternating between solo shoes, themed showcases and displays from the museum’s extensive collection. Take note that it closes every now and then to prepare for its next exhibition, so make sure you check before you go!
Parkview Museum Singapore, Level 3, Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778
Lee Kong Chian National History Museum
Do dinosaur fossils, displays of extinct animals and skeletons of giant mammals pique your interest? If so, you’re in for a treat at the Lee Kong Chian National History Museum. Wildlife lovers will get to enjoy over 10 zones showcasing a plethora of specimens from plants and fungi to dinosaurs and sea creatures. Don’t miss out on visiting the gardens surrounding the museum, which chart the evolution of plants and their habitats.
Lee Kong Chian National History Museum, National University of Singapore, 2 Singapore Drive, Singapore 117377
Pssst: The Singapore Art Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum, Changi Museum and Peranakan Museum are currently closed for renovations. Stay tuned for updates!
Located in a quaint three-storey Peranakan shophouse located along Armenian Street, this is the sister museum to the Asian Civilisations Museum. Also first of its kind in the world, it showcases collections of Peranakan items including jewellery, furniture and art. Go on and get a glimpse into the grand lifestyle of this prominent community.
Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941
Singapore Philatelic Museum
This one’s for stamp enthusiasts – the Singapore Philatelic Museum celebrates the hobby and features private collections of philatelists as well as international and themed exhibitions. Head here to see unique stamps from Singapore’s past and present.
Singapore Philatelic Museum, 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807
Remnants of the war are littered throughout the city, but a good place to start your journey into the past is Changi Museum. It serves as a memorial to the soldiers and victims of the Japanese Occupation through the documentation of the emotional events that happened during the tumultuous period.
Changi Museum, 1000 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707
Singapore Art Museum
Once a Catholic boys’ school (St. Joseph Institute) for 135 years, the beautiful historic building now holds a fine selection of contemporary artworks across Southeast Asia. Put aside your entire day when you visit this place: The art museum in Singapore has over 7,000 permanent art pieces.
Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555
Best art galleries in Singapore
This colonial barracks-turned-cool art enclave is the go-to spot for those seeking a dose of contemporary art with its distinctive art galleries. Folks with a penchant for Japanese art must make it a point to visit Mizuma Gallery and Ota Fine Arts – both are known for curating snazzy exhibitions by renowned Japanese artists. To support local pride, check out Fost Gallery, which pays special focus to emerging local artists. And don’t forget Yeo Workshop, a contemporary art gallery that curates intriguing exhibitions by local and international artists and hosts programmes that give art lovers a chance to engage with talents in Singapore.
Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Road, Singapore 108937
Goodman Arts Centre
Tucked away within the heritage-rich Mountbatten precinct, Goodman Arts Centre is home to seven acres of art goodness. This art gallery enclave in Singapore is the abode of the National Arts Council of Singapore, two F&B outlets, 36 arts and creative groups, and plenty of shared facilities for the arts aficionados. Must-see galleries include the Institute of Critical Zoologists (helmed by Robert Zhao), where you’ll learn more about the intricate relations between animals and urban societies; OH! Open house, the folks behind Singapore’s only art walkabout that transforms private spaces in neighbourhoods into art haven; and Donna Ong, where you’ll appreciate sculpture installations, films and drawings that internalise childhood dreams and hopes.
Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, Singapore 439053
The gallery is currently closed but stay tuned for a brand new vision.
Kult Gallery is a lowbrow urban-style gallery located at Emily Hill, showcasing works from both local and international artists. It aims to promote young street artists and illustrators, shining a spotlight on talents you must get acquainted with. Here, you can find signed editions, original works and other obscure pieces that defy the conventional and challenge the norm. It’s a constantly evolving space giving you a different experience every time you visit.
Kult Gallery, Blk C2-5, Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie Road, Singapore 228120
Established with the aim to support and nurture the community of photography enthusiasts in Singapore and beyond, Deck is a fun, independent communal art space that exposes you to the photography scene. Here, you’ll find a gallery, library, activity studio, artist’s studio and cafe within the 19 magnificent shipping containers stacked atop one another (yes, shipping containers; how’s that for cool?).
Deck, 120A Prinsep Street, Singapore 187937
Tanjong Pagar Distripark
Art galleries in Singapore can’t get any cooler than this. At Tanjong Pagar Distripark, you can spot several art galleries hidden within the vicinity of the warehouse. First, check out the fairly renowned Ikkan Art International that houses Singapore-based visual artist Sherman Ong’s masterpieces. Then, head over to Gajah Gallery for galleries of work from artists around the region.
Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road, Singapore 089065