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Unusual Museums You Never Knew Existed in Singapore

Need some fresh date ideas? For an artsy day out with your other half, check out these interesting museums that are guaranteed to pique your curiosity.

 By Clara Tan

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lee Kong Chian Natural History MuseumLocated at the National University of Singapore, the 8,500 sqm Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is Singapore’s first and only natural history museum. Named after prominent Chinese philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, it is home to over a million Southeast Asian plant and animal specimens, from Neptune’s Cup Sponge to sperm whales. Don’t forget to check out their star exhibits, including the 150-million-year-old diplodocid sauropod dinosaur skeletons. For some fresh air, take a walk down the Phylogenetic Garden, where you can find myriad vegetation, from algae to mangrove trees. The museum also conducts guided tours, workshops and nature walks. Interested visitors can sign up at the museum.

Address: 2 Conservatory Drive

MINT Museum of Toys

Whether you’re young at heart or an avid toy collector, MINT’s collection will make you feel like a child again. The museum has over 50,000 world-class toys and objects and is spread across six levels, each with a theme of its own. See superhero characters like Batman and Ultraman, Beatles memorabilia from the 60s, Star Wars action figurines and more. Guided tours and workshops are also offered from time to time. Don’t forget to pop by the museum’s gift shop at Level 1 where you can buy replica toys and other collectibles.

Address: 26 Seah Street

The Intan

Curious about Peranakan culture? Pop by The Intan, a cosy hideout located in a terrace house along Joo Chiat Terrace. This heritage space is a haven for all things Peranakan – find interesting artefacts like vintage planter chairs, beaded shoes, and beautiful carriers and pots. Each piece of memorabilia is collected by the museum’s owner, Alvin Yap, who gives tours of the space, sharing more about the history of Peranakan culture. While you’re here, you’ll also get to try yummy handmade Nyonya kuehs! Do note that all visits are strictly by appointment only. 

Address: 69 Joo Chiat Terrace

Vintage Cameras Museum

Enter the fascinating world of photography at the Vintage Cameras Museum. Shaped in the form of a DSLR, the museum showcases close to 1,000 cameras. From antique spy cameras to modern 3D ones – you name it, they have it. Plus, you can actually pick up some of the vintage cameras on display and try them out yourself. The museum also boasts a collection of retro photographs, including an authentic replica of the first picture ever taken.

Address: No. 8C & 8D Jalan Kledek

Singapore Musical Box Museum

Founded by Mr Naoto Orui, the Singapore Musical Box Museum exhibits over 40 antique musical boxes, with half from the UK. This collection includes “China”, the musical box from one of the first collaborations between Britain and Singapore, as well as Mr Orui’s personal assemblage. On display are also collectibles such as dancing ballerinas and antique clocks. All admission tickets are
inclusive of a tour, where the guides will share everything you need to know, from the museum’s history to the heyday of musical boxes and its decline in popularity.

Address: 168 Telok Ayer Street

STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery

Print is not dead – at least at STPI. Marvel at contemporary art through the medium of paper where pieces are intended to challenge conventions in art and promote artistic experimentation. STPI collaborates frequently with leading international artists. Past exhibitions include Fragments from a Collective Unity, where LA-based painter Aaron Curry transformed the gallery into a starburst of fluorescent patterns and constellations, and Sculpting Light, a showcase of late British-Singaporean pioneer printmaker Kim Lim’s portfolio and how she viewed paper as a sculptural material. STPI also holds various guided tours and workshops like papermaking and sculpting regularly. Visit the STPI website for more updates and information.

Address: 41 Robertson Quay

And the fun continues…

Here’s another idea for a fun, artsy day out: an exhibition on food packaging. Packaging Matters: Singapore’s Food Packaging Story from the Early 20th Century tells the story of how food packaging in Singapore has evolved, the design identities of local brands, as well as eco-friendly steps taken towards reducing our carbon footprint. Enjoy this blast from the past and look out for old-school Coca-Cola glass bottles, Horlicks and Ovaltine tin cans, and the iconic clam-shell polystyrene containers which held Big Mac burgers back in the day . The exhibition runs till 12 May at the National Museum of Singapore (93 Stamford Road). Admission is free!