Little Mix

Published on 26 January 2017

We check out three small and unusual museums that offer more than just the standard displays.

BY JACLYNN SEAH

When was the last time you were allowed to eat in a museum? Or personalise a stamp sheet with your photo?

The museum visitor experience has progressed beyond staring passively at static works on walls or circling tiny artefacts encased in glass — interactivity is often encouraged and the focus has shifted from merely curating a display to creating an experience that leaves a lasting impression.

But beyond spiffy audio-visual guides and interactive digital panels which have become de rigueur in newer museum exhibits today, we set our sights on three of the more interesting and personal experiences you can have in some of Singapore’s smaller and niche museums.

Check out www.museums.com.sg for a listing of more than 50 private and public museums in Singapore and their range
of activities.

HAVE YOUR KUEH AND EAT IT

Most institutions will have you scurrying for the exits if you pull out a snack amidst the exhibits, but at The Intan, the Nyonya kueh you are served is considered an integral part of the visitor experience.

Owner Alvin Yapp wanted to create a unique and intimate way for people to understand Peranakan culture, which resulted in the Intan Signature Tea Experience, an hour-long session where he personally guides you through his tiny two-storey shop-house space filled with an array of Peranakan artefacts. Yapp caps off the tour with traditional Peranakan snacks and tea.

It’s a truly personal way to learn about this unique culture — there are no placards or artist statements, but ask a question about any of the knick-knacks in any corner of the house and Yapp will give you a spiel that covers anything from the significance of the object to Peranakan culture, or how he managed to collect it. The museum is unusual as it is actually Yapp’s current abode — his room is on the second floor — and is located in Joo Chiat, a traditionally Peranakan neighbourhood.

The Intan is located at 69 Joo Chiat Terrace. The Signature Tea Experience usually costs $45 for a minimum of six guests and is open by appointment only. Visit www.the-intan.com for more details.

HISTORIC STAY

The Fuk Tak Chi Museum, a small Chinese temple along multicultural Telok Ayer Street, looks pretty unassuming at first glance — until you discover the back entrance, which is attached to the modern air-conditioned lobby of the boutique Amoy hotel.

The hotel was constructed in what used to be the back alley of Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple and a part of the Far East Square premises today. Your welcome drink as a hotel guest is accompanied by a complimentary tour of this little museum courtesy of hotel staffers, who have been trained to tell you more about the temple built by Chinese immigrants and once housed the statue of Tua Pek Kong.

You don’t have to be a hotel guest to explore this museum — it is open to public though there are no museum guides or placards to give you more information on site. The Amoy hotel with the attached Fuk Tak Chi Museum makes for a unique option for those who like a hotel stay with more personality.

Fuk Tak Chi Museum is located at 76 Telok Ayer Street. Opens 10am-10pm daily. For more details, visit www.fareastsquare.com.sg.

LEAVE YOUR MARK

The Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) is the only place in Singapore where you can personlise your stamp sheet, thanks to the MyStamp Service, which allows you to print your photo in the tab next to an actual stamp. It costs around $23 to create one and makes for a unique and personalised souvenir. You can also get a special SPM postmark on your letters if you mail them from the SPM mail counter.

One might imagine that a museum dedicated to stamps might appeal only to those with a serious interest in philately, the study of stamps. However, the various exhibitions covering themes ranging from Singapore history to pop-culture heroes like Harry Potter and Shakespeare don’t just showcase stamps in all their finery. The stamps form parts of exhibits that tell a larger story of a particular moment in history in a surprisingly interesting way. The interactive exhibits also make the SPM a popular choice for schools and families, especially during school holidays and weekends.

The Singapore Philatelic Museum is located at 23B Coleman Street. Opens 10am-7pm daily. Free for Singapore Citizens & Permanent Residents. Visit spm.org.sg for details.

We uncovered secrets to these museums we visited! Check them out now by clicking on the video!

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