Asian Civilisations Museum
Address: Empress Place, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Admission: Adults - $5, senior citizens, children and full-time students - $2.50. Discounted admission on Friday nights, 7pm - 9pm, Adults - $4, senior citizens, children and full-time students - $2
Opening Hours: Mondays 1 - 7 pm; Tuesday to Sunday 9am - 7pm; Fri 9am - 9pm
Guided Tours: English - Monday2pm, Tuesday - Friday 11am - 2pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Mandarin - Saturday and Sunday 11.30am and 2.30pm
Japanese - Tuesday - Friday 10.30am
Approximate Touring Time: 2 hours
Much emphasis is always put on the multi-ethnic cultural society of Singapore, and the one museum to present this in an engaging way is the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM).
The first museum in the Southeast Asian region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilizations, ACM seeks to promote a better appreciation of the rich cultures that make up both Singapore's multi-ethnic society as well as the surrounding regions. ACM specialises in the material history of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia, from which the diverse ethnic groups of Singapore can trace back their ancestry.
Located next to the symbolic Singapore River from where much of the diverse cultural make-up started in Singapore, the museum is housed in what was originally government offices built in the colonial period in Sir Stamford Raffles' days. These included the offices of the Secretariat, Audit Office, Registration of Deeds Office, Land Office, Public Works and Medical Department, Treasury and Stamp Office, and the Inspector General of the Police Force.
In front of the building was also a public square which was given the name Empress Place by the Municipal Council in 1907 in honour of Queen Victoria (it may well be the oldest pedestrian space in Singapore). Over time, Government Offices became associated with Empress Place and it has become known to Singaporeans as that till this day.
Inside the museum, much of the original architecture has been kept, from the stately rooms with high ceilings with handsome Doric columns and exquisite plaster mouldings and cornices. Elegantly proportioned, the building is laid out symmetrically along a central axis.
The museum showcases several collections in its permanent collections, as well as rotating temporary exhibition galleries that has housed blockbuster exhibitions ranging from Vatican to the Chinese Imperial Palace artefacts and artworks.
Spread over 11 galleries and three levels, the ACM is a microcosm of Asian civilisations presented in an engaging way. Departing from the traditional chronological approach most museums undertake, the story of Asia is showcased in themed galleries integrated with multimedia and interactive components.
The Chinese collection is represented by fine Dehua porcelain figures, Taoist and Buddhistic statuary, export porcelain, calligraphy and other examples of decorative art.
The South Asian Galleries feature statues from a broad spectrum of periods including some fine Chola bronzes. One to note is the Chola bronze sculpture of Uma, the consort of Shiva and that of Somaskanda. Other interesting and significant artefacts include South Indian woodwork, Nepali-Tibetan bronzes, textiles, late medieval miniatures and colonial prints.
Representing the aristocratic art of ancient Southeast Asia are Khmer sculptures, Javanese temple sculpture (some on loan from Leiden), later Buddhist art from Burma/ Thailand and the Sinicised temple art of Vietnam.
The Singapore River Interpretative Gallery which charts the inspiring story of immigrants who lived and worked on the Singapore River.
Please check out other museums in our guide:
Images of Singapore
Chinatown Heritage Centre
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
Memories at Old Ford Factory
Wood Bridge Museum
Singapore Art Museum
Mint Museum of Toys
Art Retreat incorporating Wu Guanzhong Gallery
Alliance Francaise de Singapour
Museum and Gallery Guide - Asian Civilisations Museum
inSing.com - 19 May 2009 12:00 AM | Updated 2 September 2009