After more than 20 years, I could hardly recall any visits to the museums in Singapore. Other than those school trips with my kids, I have never personally spend time exploring the museums. But soon I will. If you like what you’re going to read below, continue reading and you might find something you can get for free!

Join me on a journey to rediscover the Asian Civilisations Museum

After SMB3 at the River Room, few of us stayed to join a group of Singapore Blog Awards finalists for a guided tour around the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM).


The sticker to gain us access around the museum

Our guide was Clement Onn, one of the curators at ACM. He shared his favorite sections of the museum very well. The tour around the South Asia Gallery was very insightful and we learned many interesting things and history about the artifacts at the gallery. Here are some to share…

Sadly I forgot to record the details of the above. But I will surely be going back again soon when my NHB Season Pass arrives! (Details at end of post)


Sandstone Bahubali

According to Jain legend, Bahubali was a prince who fought his own brother for taking over their kingdom. He won the battle but relinquish all his power and retreated to the forest after returning the kingdom back to his brother. This statue shows Bahubali nude and creepers twining around his legs, which represents ageless penance.

One interesting story told was the story of Draupadi. She is the wife of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata epic. As told, the Indians those days listen and follow every command their parents or seniors give. Hence when one of the brothers brought Draupadi home, and due to a misheard word, that brother was told to share his wife with his brothers. So Draupadi lived her life with five husbands, and there were many tales about them.


Statue of Draupadi


While the group was exploring and listening to Clement, I roamed on my own and discovered this mysterious gate! The number 10 on it attracted me. (I’m a fan of that number you see! *lol*)


Mysterious gate inside Asian Civilisations Museum

When the rest of the group saw it, someone asked the reason for the gate. Clement shared that this was part of the original building and they didn’t want to remove it hence it became part of the display. From the looks of it, it’s a door to some kind of vault which kept very valuable stuff. (I wonder what they were… hmmm… gold bar perhaps? Haha!)

If I had gone to explore the museum for the first time on my own, I’ll probably get lost in the huge building! But if you’re not a blur sotong like me, I’m sure you’ll find your way around very easily. There were many signs and maps to guide visitors around the museum.


Spot anyone familiar in the photo?

Most of the exhibits at the museum are there permanently but every 3 to 4 months, at the special exhibition gallery, visitors get to explore different display. Now they’re having a Viet Nam! From myth to modernity exhibition, 21 May to 30 Sep 2008.

There are quite a good collection of artifacts from the earlier years to the modern world of Vietnam. But few things that caught my attention at this special gallery…


Shadow cast by a gate near the exit of this gallery

This is a very interesting piece

Can you see what its made of?

Taking a closer look…

its stamps!
This is a portrait of Ho Chi Minh by Ngo Ba Thao.

And do you know there’s an Islamic mosque inside ACM?

This set-up was done with consultation from an Islamic leader (imam). Facing the direction of kiblat, as muslims pray facing that direction. The people at the museum wants to allow visitors to have a feel of the setting inside a mosque, hence they constructed this set-up.

Finally, on the second floor above the main entrance of ACM, the Shaw Foyer, there is also mini-exhibitions for anyone to visit. On display now is the Seeing Red exhibition as part of the China Modern China Contemporary Festival.

And this page of a book on display caught my attention…

Interesting isn’t it? Ballet dancers in military outfit and carrying weapons. Fierce lah! I did a quick search and found this post which tells the story of this scene.

There are so much to explore and discover at the Asian Civilisations Museum! I can’t possible finish everything here. But as I’d said, I’ll be going back more often over the next year. If you’re a blogger and is interested or would like to join me in the discovering of the museums in Singapore, you can apply for a free season pass too! You can drop an email to Wei Chong at chin_wei_chong [at] nhb [dot] gov [dot] sg. (Submissions has to be approved first to get the free pass.)

Thanks Walter for making this experience possible! Here’s two photos I took of him and his family at the museum that day…

First shot with his wife…

but his son’s eyes were hidden!

So a second shot…

He made sure his eyes were wide open! So cute!

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