The Peranakan Museum explores the culture of Peranakan communities in in Southeast Asia. Installed in the former Tao Nan Chinese School, built in 1912, this intimate museum possesses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Peranakan objects. Galleries on three floors illustrate the cultural traditions and the distinctive visual arts of the Peranakans. The Peranakan Museum provides a stimulating and educational experience for all, while representing the living culture of the Peranakan community in the region. The museum is a component of the Asian Civilisations Museum, operating under the National Heritage Board.
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You can sense the pride
When I heard that the Peranakan Museum is an arm of the Asian Civilization Museum I was keen to go. In my book, the Asian Civilization Museum is a marvel. The Peranakan Museum does not disappoint.
With friendly and helpful guides to take you through the old school that now houses the displays you can appreciate and enjoy immensely a marvelous collection of Peranakan objects. The galleries are all fascinating. The distinctive and colourful displays of the visual arts of the Peranakan traditions are a delight.
Well worth a visit if you are keen to understand a little more about Southeast Asian Culture and the inter mixing of traders from all over the world with local people who became the ancestors of the Peranakans.
Beautiful eye-opener exhibitions and hands-on
I visited the Peranakan Museum during the period of August free admission 1 Aug – 31 Aug 2012. The local TV show, “The Little Nyonya” had lasting impression on me so I was rather interested in the Peranakan culture. I did not expect the hands on activities that added greatly to my experience!
The receptionists gave us a worksheet in a fun, circular shape for us to collect etches based on the hints as we explore the museum. This sparked my interest as I really love games like a treasure hunt. The machines to etch are located on each section and level and it was fun spotting a machine and quickly engraving the answer onto the worksheet. I was impressed with the etching of Peranakan objects onto paper because they look so pretty. The answers were insects, food, and even mystical legendary creatures like dragon!
We were awed by the intricate and delicate workmanship of the beaded shoes, purses and dining essentials displayed throughout the museum. I also love the vintage furniture that contributes greatly to the Peranakan settings, especially the variety of long dining tables with rounded ends. Collections of the Peranakan crockery were set on the tables and it made me feel like having an authentic Peranakan meal! There were multi-media stations accompanying each exhibition and one of the more impressionable ones was the video on a big silver screen, playing “Emily of the Emerald Hill” by Singaporean playwright, Stella Kon. I had studied a book of short classroom plays written by her during my Secondary school days.
On Level 2, there were two private rooms with Peranakan costumes for visitors to try on. On the hangers, the costumes look merely like colorful pieces of cloth and feel rather thin and flimsy as well. However, when worn, Peranakan characters were brought to life! The craftsmanship is admired as the clothing fits well onto our body types despite the thin and shapeless fabrics used! We had loads of laughter trying on the costumes as we were apprehensive about the Peranakan style that is so different from the modern one.
The last hands-on activity was putting stamps onto a card at a station! There were many different stamps of Peranakan objects and people. We had fun grabbing the stamps and transferring them onto our card. The stamps are large with an antique finish to it; hence I really like handling them. It feels like the olden days where stamps are used more commonly than signatures when required to validate your identity and consent!
I love how my trip to Peranakan museum is unique and one of a kind! Sometimes there are events happening in the Peranakan museum as well. During the Singapore Arts Festival, an instrumental band gave an amazing performance at the museum, using uncommon instruments that I am seeing for the first time! Definitely worth the visit if you are looking for something else other than shopping and movies to spend your day or of course, if you are interested in Peranakan culture.
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Colourful and attractive exhibitions
I’ve always loved Peranakan food, but was rather unaware about the culture. So when the Peranakan Museum first opened, I was excited and resolved to go!
Separated into different sections such as religion and weddings, much could be learnt about Peranakan culture. The portion with the Peranakan kitchen was the most interesting. There were recordings of sounds heard in the kitchen; sounds such as clanging, chopping, and frying. That’s how all the splendid food appears on the table I guess!
There were also displays of traditional costumes that had intricate designs and bead embroidery. It was the first time I saw it and every costume was fascinating. For those who don’t know much about Peranakan culture and would like to find out more, this place is a great place to start!
Enriching and eye opening
Prior to my visit to the Peranakan Museum, everything Peranakan that revolved around my personal universe was food. The Peranakans are connesiors and producers of a fabulous variety of delicious food. From the nonya kueh to nyonya laksa, such delicacies have never failed to make my mouth water. The single most important ingredient in Perankan cooking, the one fact that kept coming back to me during the museum tour, was spices. Spices enhances and makes the taste of the cooking unique, and hence compliments with perankan culture, which is unique in its own right.
Born of chinese and malay parents, Perankans are a unique race in its own right, a crossroads leading to the fusion of rich Malayan and Chinese culture, a testimony from the numerous galleries in the Peranakan Museum. From weddings to traditional lores to cooking to even the furniture layouts in their homes, the galleries brings you into a virtual world of Peranakan everyday life. However, the richness of the gallery offers a slight disadvantage in the large number of artefacts, which can easily swallow up time. Moreover, the amount of information is overwhelming and sometimes its hard to find the links. Though there are some stations which promotes interactive learning, these are quite sparse.
Overall, the experience is a good one. The tour guides are friendly and knowledgable about the exhibits. And vending machines as well as a cafe can be found in close proximity for refreshments. Moreover, I felt that the staff did a good job on taking care of much of the priceless exhibits, a worthy guardian of a heritage deeply rooted in Singapore.
Our unique heritage
I assume I'm chinese. Because of my (relatively) fair skin, slanty eyes and black hair. But I'm also pretty sure I have yet to identify all of my racial roots. Hence, I occasionally enjoy the thought of the possibility of being Peranakan.
My visit to the Peranakan museum was more out of boredom than of true desire. I remember being pleasantly surprised as I walked into the beautiful, ornate structure. Peranakans are unique in that they don't necessarily have a specific look to them. Yet, they're considered a race. (Perhaps a lot like 'others' is considered a race nowadays) But I do remember the artistic way the exhibits were presented, constantly utilising the floral and ceramic theme. But perhaps my favourite part of the whole museum was the gift shop, where you get to take away over priced but quaint souvenirs.
The building is utterly gorgeous, and very well maintained, with aspects of the interior also being retained on top of the beautiful exterior. It’s great that it is being preserved. In fact, sometimes I wonder whether the real attraction of the place is the building or the exhibits itself. The building will hold even more significance to anyone who comes from Tao Nan School, seeing that this is the old Tao Nan building. The magnificent eagles gracing the entrance are the originals, with Tao Nan returning then in the wake of plans to preserve the building.
The exhibits do their job of introducing one to Peranakan culture and enhancing one’s present understanding of their lifestyle, without being excessively dry. Having visually impressive exhibits definitely aids in grabbing the attention of the museumgoer, as do the multiple platforms are utilized. However, the narrow scope of coverage might be a little tiring after having gone through multiple exhibits before this. Also, I don’t recall any of the exhibits having been changed significantly on my subsequent visits.
Interesting but stale
The Peranakan Museum is relatively new when compared to its counterparts. I visited it a few years ago when it was newly opened and it was like being introduced to a whole new culture, so distinctively Chinese yet so uniquely Peranakan.
Maybe because it’s name matches it’s exhibits, when I first explored it, it was like being immersed in a totally different world, having to understand their language from scratch, having to understand their customs and ceremonies and stereotypes… it was such an experience it gave me a new perspective on ‘other’ races in Singapore!
It left an indelible mark in my mind that had me coming back again this year, but the disappointing thing is that nothing has changed. Surely the Museum could have reinvented itself, added in more exhibits or changed the style of the exhibits… but no, and now it has turned stale.
So flippin' beautiful
The exterior of the Peranakan museum is such an interesting blend of tradition and modernity. The street that it is on does not have high traffic - in fact, the first time I visited it (last, last year) was completely by chance. I had lost my way with my friend and we were drawn to it. The building is obviously well maintained but still preserves the traditional architectural art and patterns on the walls. There were also bronze statues of a cat and a grandpa with his grandchild, which really added life to the exterior.
The traditional setting of the exterior (with the shophouse style windows and tiling) gave way to an extremely modern, minimal and chic interior. The place was really easy to navigate around, and on each floor there was always something interesting to see or hear. They use different platforms to enhance the experience of learning and engages multiple senses. I remember me and my friend running around to different stations and using the 'oldschool presser', as we called it, to emboss our papers. I had a truly enjoyable time and it was such an eyeopener. They exhibited peranakan life, culture, tradition, cutlery, jewellery and even their signature beaded shoes. It is definitely a family-friendly place and great for kids to learn about Peranakan culture in a fun and interactive way.
The Peranakan Museum is definitely one of the few specific museums we have in Singapore. As students, my friends and I had free admission to the museum. On first glance, it looked pretty small, compared to the other museums that I've went. However, as small as it may seem, it definitely covers a large part, if not all of the possible information you can get on the peranakan culture.
The peranakan culture is a dying one, and to see so many of their items and lifestyle immortalized behind the glass panel, was indeed very refreshing and definitely an eye opener. From the clothes they wear on different festive celebrations, to the architecture of their houses and furnitures, the museum displayed all of them clearly, showing the minute differences and transitions.
However, it did start to get a little dry after visiting the multiple segments of the museum. The whole museum did a good overview on the culture - but i guess it also boils down to the interest of different individuals. I was very interested in the rituals and their choice of clothing, but when it got to modern adaptations of the peranakan culture, I got a little distracted.
It's a good place for a little intellectual gathering with a group of friends or dates, because you definitely will be bringing some knowledge of the peranakan culture away with you. In fact, I would revisit this place on my own accord, just to see the beautiful displays again.
Cheap entrance fees for a museum rich in culture
The Peranakan Museum is definitely one of the best museums in Singapore. I first visited the Peranakan Museum as part of a a school trip meant to introduce students to various Singaporean culture.
Although the Peranakan Museum may seem small in comparison to other museums in Singapore like the National Museum of Singapore, there is no doubt that the visual beauty, as well as the sights and sounds of the Peranakan Museum is definitely of the same standard, if not better.
The museum is very interactive, as visitors are able to obtain an insight into the everyday sounds of what happens in a typical Peranakan household, and the displays are absolutely breathtaking.
Merely a 10 minutes' walk away from City Hall MRT Station, the Peranakan Museum is definitely very accessible as well. A great museum to visit!
It was nice to take a step back in time and experience the Peranakan culture, one that is vital contributor to our national culture. I loved looking at traditional Peranakan costumes and reading the stories of famous Paranakan people who lived in Singapore. My Grandmother, who comes for England, was especially impressed by the rich culture that was showcased through museum displays.
However, we felt that the number of galleries were rather limited as it took us only about 1.5 hours to finish walking through the galleries. Therefore I'd recommend this museum to people who are keen to have a quick insight to Pernakan culture. But just note that you won't be spending an entire afternoon here.
Simply Breath taking.
I had my fair share of experience to the Peranakan Museum a few years ago with my school and I simply loved it! The experience was phenomenal – enriching and educational. The museum owns the finest as well as the most widespread collections of the Peranakan pieces which were all simply breath taking. If I am not mistaken, there were a total of ten galleries and they were all covered on the three floors of building to elucidate the cultural traditions as well as practices. The galleries were all so beautifully displayed with the unique visual arts of the Peranakans in telling the lifestyle of the Peranakan community itself.
Located at Armenian Street, you can simply find the museum about a 10-minute walk from the City Hall and Bras Basah MRT Stations. Also, free admission for all locals and PRs! It is definitely, an experience no to be missed!