Singapore's untouched culture hotspots
Over the years, museums and galleries in Singapore have upped their games and are often the go-to places for you and your friends to take drool-worthy photos. These days, it’s hard to even count the number of times the National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum appear on our Instagram feeds!
While these places are renowned cultural landmarks for us to appreciate, sometimes they feel a little too… curated. The more curious among us yearn for something more raw, something that may not be found in the ‘official’ guidebooks. Here are 8 such spots in Singapore that we've found.
1. Children Little Museum
It’s hard to imagine a world without iPads to distract the kids around dinner tables now, but a time existed when a styrofoam plane with plastic propellers could give endless entertainment to little ones. A place of nostalgia for pre-21st century kids, the Children Little Museum is everything that made up their childhood before technology stepped in.
Children Little Museum is located one floor above Trippies at Kampong Glam, where affordable old postcards, cameras and old-school games are up for grabs. $2 is all you need to enter this curious place full of childhood knick-knacks!
Address: 42 Bussorah St, Singapore 199460
Telephone: 6298 2713
Opening Hours: 11am–9pm daily
2. The Heritage Shop
There's barely any browsing space in The Heritage Shop, also near Kampong Glam, with old antiques filling its walls and ceilings to every nook and cranny. From bona fide Peranakan lunch boxes to English teapots, this place is a mega culture pot full of items from Singapore's past!
The Heritage Shop's friendly owner Mr Phoa brings in anything from Singapore's past he can get his hands on, from little trinkets to rare $8000 collectibles. Precious finds can be found here and if you're curious, Mr Phoa will be more than glad to share stories and impart his knowledge of antiques to you.
Here's where you go to for a peek into some of everyday Singaporeans' prized possessions through the ages, giving you a better idea of how they lived their lives beyond your Social Studies textbooks.
Address: 93 Jalan Sultan, Singapore 198997
Telephone: 6223 7982
Opening Hours: 1.30pm–8pm daily
3. Blu Jaz Cafe
Blu Jaz Cafe is known to be Bali Lane’s hot spot for live entertainment, music and open mic nights. Join them every last Thursday of the month for poetry slams, where you can sign up to recite your own verses or simply watch talented linguists pour their souls out into reciting their poems.
Unlike flat poetry recitals, Blue Jaz Cafe’s weekly poetry slams are dominated by passionate expressions from ordinary individuals. From heartbreaking tales of love to truthful criticisms of society, fans of literature will enjoy a night of aspiring Shakespeares and Hemingways taking the stage. Winners get cash prizes in return!
Address: 11 Bali Lane, Historic Kampong Glam, Singapore 189848
Telephone: 6292 3800 / 9823 9059
Opening Hours: 12pm–1am (Mon to Thu), 12pm–2am (Fri), 3pm–2am (Sat), Closed on Sundays
4. Comedy Masala at Hero’s
Comedy Masala is a weekly affair at Hero’s, when the bar turns into an avenue for comedians to dish out doses of laughter to a live audience. Comedy and satire have always been useful tools in poking fun at issues, and they’re a much-needed remedy to a heavy heart. If there’s freedom of speech anywhere in Singapore other than Hong Lim Park, it’s at Comedy Masala.
With many Singaporean and international comedians setting the stage, it’s also the only open mic venue for comedians-to-be or plain hilarious people. There’s nowhere else in the world you’ll get to hear standup comedy spoken in Singlish about hawker uncles, Amos Yee and kiasu aunties.
One of Singapore's more prominent stand-up comedians, Fakkah Fuzz, performs at Comedy Masala pretty often. Check out his act here:
Address: 69 Circular Road, #01-01, Singapore 049423
Telephone: 8525 7414
Opening Hours (For Comedy Masala): 8:00pm–10:00pm every Tuesday
5. Bukit Brown Cemetery
It might seem a little odd to visit a cemetery for an insight into arts and culture, but Bukit Brown Cemetery is an exception. Being one of the largest Chinese cemeteries in the whole of Asia, the plot of land is the final resting place for several of Singapore’s greatest figures such as Chew Joo Chiat, Chew Boon Lay and Gan Eng Seng.
The trail is a fascinating journey into Singapore’s past and the common people who shaped our history. You’ll be surprised to find a multitude of cultures in a single tomb, like one which has Chinese scriptures and Sikh guards, being truly reflective of Singapore’s diversity even decades ago.
Sign up for guided tours with Brownies on the first weekend of every month! Consisting of volunteers from various backgrounds, the Brownies will share insightful stories of Bukit Brown’s people, its heritage, tombs and the surrounding foliage.
Arm yourself with mosquito repellent because it’s going to be a battle against insects, but it’ll be totally worth it for the experience.
Address: Refer to events from Peatix.com for meeting points
Opening Hours: 5am–6pm daily
6. The Cathay Gallery
Easily overlooked by visitors to the cinema, The Cathay Gallery is a small silver-screen museum in The Cathay, Singapore’s first high-rise building. Fans of retro and old-school films will be able to see various movie memorabilia, and learn about the origins of the Loke family and their contributions to film production in Singapore. This gallery is a remembrance of Singapore’s film and pop culture before we became enamoured by Hollywood.
Address: The Cathay #02-16, 2 Handy Rd, Singapore 229233
Opening Hours: 11am–7pm daily, Closed on Sundays
7. Vintage Flea Market
The most intriguing thing about vintage items at fleas is that they are usually one-of-a-kind, and that adds so much more value to an otherwise ordinary object. I know someone who collects antique buttons and her collection grows every time she goes to a foreign country where vintage fleas are common.
Held monthly by The Retro Factory, the Vintage Flea Market is a unique pop-up flea that sells uncommon gifts or collectibles dating all the way back to the 1880s!
This is one of the rare events in Singapore where you’ll get to see such a wide range of not-so-pricey old goodies. The nearest flea weekend at the moment is from 11 to 12 March, so mark your calendars and go discover little trinkets to gift your loved ones!
Address, Opening Hours: Changes monthly; Check Facebook page for details
8. Our Gallery at Taman Jurong
Unknown to many as it’s located at the far-west of Singapore, Our Gallery at Taman Jurong is a residents-led project that encourages the public to co-create works with artists. Works can be contributed by anyone, from little toddlers to the elderly! Many of these pieces are displayed at HDB void decks or spaces in the neighbourhood, and visitors can follow a curated trail to discover the vibrant art culture of the Taman Jurong community.
Community participation at Taman Jurong shows how it doesn’t take a Picasso to create great art. Take a leisurely stroll around this neighbourhood and witness how people have created tangible pieces of Singapore’s diverse culture.
Address: The trail begins from Lakeside MRT Station
Never run out of places to go
The arts and culture scene in Singapore offers so much more than paintings and installations in museums; art is not limited to visuals, and it expands to experiences as well. Immerse yourself in the arts for a multi-sensory escapade into the creative scene of Singapore!
For easy research on events and happenings, check out the A List Singapore, Singapore’s first full-fledged arts and culture guide.
Published monthly by the National Arts Council, the A List Singapore is a comprehensive guide to all arts-related things in Singapore, from passion projects driven through by everyday people to large scale projects like Singapore Art Week. Whether you’re a young student or a working professional, you’ll be able to find an experience catered to you.
Forget boring visuals and mundane text boxes; this publication is on-trend with eye-popping, lively typography, so every feature will get the spotlight that it deserves. If you don’t have the physical copy, visit its website for fully archived and scanned copies! You’ll easily be able to check out when’s the next Vintage Flea Market or who’s the next international comedian hitting our shores for Comedy Masala.
To read up more on arts and cultural hotspots around town, plus the inside scoop on the latest arts happenings, begin your exploration at a-list.sg. Now you can jio your friends to all things arts and culture-related on our sunny island.
This post was brought to you by the A List Singapore.