The ultimate guide to Singapore's best museums, galleries, and current exhibitions

Antony Gormley at National Gallery Singapore.
PHOTO: Joseph Nair

It’s time to chuck the ‘museums are stuffy’ stereotype out of the window. Singapore is buzzing with fun and funky museums , from our big-name national museums right down to niche private ones.

Whether you want to get cultured with cutting-edge art showcases, take a thought-provoking trip into history , or just bounce around an ice-cream wonderland, there’s a spot for you. Get started with our curation of Singapore’s best museums, galleries, and current exhibitions.

Museum of Ice Cream Singapore

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Singapore’s very own Museum of Ice Cream! This ice-cream themed wonderland from New York has recently hit our shores with its Insta-famous brand of pastel pink fun.

Housed in a 60,000-square-foot space in Dempsey, its 14 immersive installations spell paradise for sweet tooths and kids at heart. Slurp up pina colada ice-cream in California Dreaming, bounce your sugar rush away in the Inflatable room, get a sweet taste of nostalgia in Potong, then plunge into the Sprinkle Pool. Did we mention there’s free-flow ice-cream?

Admission Details: Tickets start from $38 for groups of four or more, and $40 for groups of two or three. Book online here.

Museum of Ice Cream Singapore is located at 100 Loewen Rd, Singapore 248837, p. +65 6632 7142. Open Thurs-Sun 10am–10.30pm.

Da Vinci, The Exhibition

We might know Da Vinci best for his paintings, but this Renaissance polymath was equally gifted in anatomy, engineering, optics, and more.

Now running at the Singapore Science Centre, Da Vinci, The Exhibition curated by Argentina-based Aurea Exhibitions showcases the sheer breadth of his genius, with over 50 life-sized replicas of his inventions alongside reproductions of his iconic paintings.

Who says you need to fly to Europe to visit the Mona Lisa or see his human-powered helicopter come to life?

Admission Details: À la carte adult tickets for Da Vinci, The Exhibition are priced at $18. UOB Cardmembers can enjoy 10 per cent off tickets with the promo code DVUOB10.

Da Vinci, The Exhibition runs from now till Jan 2, 2022 at The Annexe, Science Centre Singapore, 15 Science Centre Rd, Singapore 609081, p. +65 6425 2500. Open Fri-Sun 10am–1pm & 2pm–5pm.

Asian Civilisations Museum

PHOTO: Russel Wong

Fancy a pilgrimage to Edo-period Japan? Head to the Asian Civilisations Museum to catch Life in Edo | Russel Wong in Kyoto, running till Oct 17, 2021. This double-bill exhibition is a portal into traditional Japan, with over 150 ukiyo-e masterpieces from the Edo period, depicting female beauties, sumo wrestlers, and more.

The second section offers a rare peek into the veiled world of Kyoto’s geishas, with dozens of photographs by Russel Wong capturing their graceful traditions. For a more modern look at fashion, stop by #SGFASHIONNOW – a cross-cultural showcase of contemporary Singapore fashion running till 19 December 2021.

Admission Details: Free for permanent galleries for Singaporeans and PRs. All-access tickets including Life in Edo | Russel Wong in Kyoto are priced at $12.

Two-for-one weekday all-access packages ($12 for two tickets) are available on Klook; UOB Cardmembers can enjoy $10 off a minimum $60 surplus spend after applying the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers.

The Asian Civilisations Museum is located at 1 Empress Pl, Singapore 179555, p. +65 6332 7798. Open daily 10am–7pm.

ArtScience Museum

We know and love the ArtScience Museum as a futuristic playground for art, science, and tech, and its latest exhibitions only prove it. Running till Jan 9, 2022, Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed plunges us into a video game world with large-scale, interactive installations.

Dance beneath a circular light sculpture to trigger music sequences in UNITY, compete in PLAY’s virtual ball pit, and manipulate on-screen kaleidoscopic patterns in EVERYTHING. Let’s just say you’ll get quite a workout.

Meanwhile, Orchestral Manoeuvres: See Sound. Feel Sound. Be Sound. offers a feast for the ears from 32 composers and artists round the world. Available till Jan 2, 2022, this exhibition brings together sound art, noise-making sculptures, and other curiosities – including a piano that plays itself.

Admission Details: Tickets are priced at $16 for Virtual Realms and $16 for Orchestral Manoeuvres. UOB Cardmembers booking via Klook ($11.40) with the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers can get $10 off a minimum $60 surplus spend.

ArtScience Museum is located at 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974, p. +65 6688 8888. Open daily 10am–7pm.

The Gem Museum

Nothing spells romance like a museum date with sparkly gemstones, and The Gem Museum is a goldmine. Singapore’s first and only gemology museum maps the journey of gems from mine to market, with dazzling samples of raw specimens and stones cut in myriad styles.

You can get up close with rare spectacles like colour-changing gems, and even try your hand at examining gems through a professional lens. Check out their Rock Garden to see the mining process in action!

Admission Details: Tickets are priced at $18 per adult.

The Gem Museum is located at 26 Kandahar St, Level 2, Singapore 198888, p. +65 6734 3172. Open Tues-Fri 12pm–5pm, Sat 11am–3pm by appointment. Closed Sun & Mon.

ALSO READ: 5 things to do in Singapore this week: Sept 20 to 26, 2021

National Gallery Singapore

A favourite haunt of art buffs, the National Gallery Singapore is worth the trip for its soaring, light-filled architecture as much as for its intriguing art. Its current limited-time exhibition, Georgette Chen: At Home in the World, is a large-scale retrospective of the iconic local painter, running till Sept 26, 2021.

Hailed as a pioneer in Singapore’s development of modern art, Georgette Chen’s works over five decades are displayed here. Before you leave, take a stroll atop the gallery’s roof garden, where Antony Gormley’s Horizon Field Singapore is perched.

His exploration of the human body in space features a maze of aluminum rings that you can step through.

Admission Details: Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs.

National Gallery Singapore is located at 1 St Andrew’s Rd, #01-01, Singapore 178957, p. +65 6271 7000. Open daily 10am–7pm.

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Freshly reopened this September after a three-year revamp, Reflections at Bukit Chandu is an immersive retelling of a legendary World War II act of courage: the Malay Regiment’s last stand against a 13,000-strong Japanese army.

Housed in a heritage bungalow close to Point 226 – the site of battle – this museum pays homage to the heroics of these heavily outnumbered soldiers. Relive history with artefacts like uniforms, bullet cases, and film footage, commemorating the origins of the Malay Regiment up till their final battle.

Admission Details: Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs.

Reflections at Bukit Chandu is located at 31-K Pepys Road, Singapore 118458, p. +65 6250 6675. Open Tues-Sun 9.30am–5pm.

The Intan

Set in a Joo Chiat terrace house, private museum The Intan is home to all manner of colourful Peranakan artifacts. Painstakingly amassed over decades by owner Alvin Yapp, you’ll find everything from antique furnishings to beaded slippers to pottery, each piece glittering with rich history.

Don’t expect just a simple tour – their package experiences will have you immersing in Peranakan culture with tea and kueh sets, private dinners offering a taste of Nyonya classics, and even a magical illusion experience after dark.

Admission Details: Tickets are priced from $64.20 per pax for The Intan Tea Experience. UOB Cardmembers booking with the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers via Klook (priced at $56++) can enjoy $10 off with a minimum $60 surplus spend.

The Intan is located at 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231, p. +65 6440 1148. Open by appointment only.

National Museum of Singapore

PHOTO: National Museum of Singapore

Singapore’s oldest museum is a time capsule of our nation’s stories and struggles, of which the latest chapter is, of course, the Covid-19 crisis. Available till Oct 17, 2021, Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of Covid-19 in Singapore brings together photographs, short films, and objects documenting how our little red dot has grappled with this global crisis.

From the modern-day, take a walk down memory lane with Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present, running till Oct 3, 2021. This sensory journey takes us through the building of our multi-cultural nation, from the first HDB homes to iconic national campaigns.

Admission Details: Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs

The National Museum of Singapore is located at 93 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178897, p. +65 6332 3659. Open daily 10am–7pm.

Trick Eye Museum Singapore

Tumble down the rabbit hole and into a topsy-turvy world at Trick Eye Museum Singapore, a renowned optical art museum from Korea. Here, seeing is not believing, with 3D and augmented reality illusions tucked in every corner.

Step inside iconic paintings, snap photos of yourself escaping the mouth of a piranha, and get spooked with hair-raising adventures such as floating in thin air and teetering down a wooden bridge over a chasm. Photo ops are aplenty, so bring your camera!

Admission Details: Tickets are priced from $21.25 online. UOB Cardmembers booking via Klook (priced from $25) with the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers can enjoy $10 off with a minimum $60 surplus spend.

The Trick Eye Museum Singapore is located at 26 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa #01-43/44, Singapore 098138, p. +65 6795 2370. Open Thurs-Mon 10am–6pm. Closed Tues & Wed.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

PHOTO: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

There’s only one place in Singapore where you can come face to face with real-life dinosaurs: The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

It’s home to over 2,000 natural history specimens, but the star of the show has to be its three diplodocid sauropod fossils, known as some of the longest creatures to ever walk the earth – the tallest here stretches nearly 27 metres.

With 15 zones spanning mammals, amphibians, plant life, and more, it’s basically a slice of all life on earth. Be sure to stop by the 10.6-metre-long skeleton of a sperm whale found off Jurong Island too.

Admission Details: Tickets are priced from $15 for Singapore residents.

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is located at National University of Singapore, 2 Conservatory Dr, Singapore 117377, p. +65 6601 3333. Open Tues-Sun 10am–6pm. Closed Mon.

ALSO READ: 5 things to do in Singapore this week: Aug 23 to 29, 2021

Changi Chapel and Museum

PHOTO: Instagram/Changi Chapel and Museum

One of Singapore’s most iconic testaments to World War II, the Changi Chapel Museum has recently reopened after a three-year overhaul. The war museum bears vivid witness to the inhumane suffering of thousands of prisoners of war in Changi Prison – as well as the incredible strength of the human spirit.

There’re poignant artifacts like a diary from an internee to his wife, a camera painstakingly hidden by Sergeant John Ritchie Johnston, and wall-to-wall replicas of Biblical murals which offered spiritual comfort to prisoners.

Admission Details: Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs.

The Changi Chapel and Museum is located at 1000 Upper Changi Rd N, Singapore 507707, p. +65 6242 6033. Open Tues-Sun 9.30am–5.30pm. Closed Mon.

This article was first published in City Nomads.