If you’re a history and heritage fan, Singapore is a treasure-trove of fascinating stories and historical trivia. While not all of it can be experienced when it’s raining, there are plenty of places you can pop into, to seek shelter from the tropical downpour and get a glimpse into Singapore’s history.
Singapore’s museums are, of course, the most obvious choice when it comes to sampling the country’s heritage. The National Museum of Singapore focuses on the Singapore story, and is the best place to understand the journey on which this island nation has been. For a broader perspective, check out the Asian Civilisations Museum which brings together artifacts from all over Asia with a particular focus on the histories of Singaporean immigrant communities. The Peranakan Museum documents the history of the Straits Chinese, and Philatelic Museum is a great place for stamp collectors and enthusiasts to spend a few hours.
Besides these well-known museums, there are other ways to understand Singapore’s history. One of the first stops should be the National Library on Victoria Street. The 16-storey building is ultra-modern but there are many historical gems inside. The library almost always has exhibits of local history, photography or art in its galleries. In addition to this, check out the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, the best way to understand Singapore’s history through the written word, and don’t forget to look for the Singaporean and Southeast Asian Collection, maps of the region and microfilms.
More detailed histories of various ethnic groups in Singapore can be found at Heritage Centres. The Malay Heritage Centre in the Kampong Glam area houses exhibitions about the history of Kampong Glam, the lives of Malays in early Singapore, literature and music, and films. The building itself was the palace of the Sultan and has considerable historical significance. The Chinatown Heritage Centre lets you step into a world of memories, inside the shophouses of Chinatown. You’ll see what the interior of shophouses really looked like, and understand the lives, work and dreams of Chinese immigrants to Singapore in these painstakingly-recreated spaces.