Death is a rather taboo topic in most parts of the world, and that is certainly still the case in Singapore. The iconic national cultural gem, Haw Par Villa, hopes to break down that stigma and bring about meaningful discussions on the rather grim topic with the official relaunch of Hell’s Museum.
The cultural theme park has relaunched today and Hell’s Museum will be open to the public from 29 October – just in time to celebrate the spooky season. It seeks to provide unique comparative insights into how death and the afterlife are interpreted across different religions, cultures, and ages.
Hell’s Museum also serves as a prelude to the world-renowned 10 Courts of Hell, which is based on the Taoist and Buddhist teachings of punishments in the afterlife. Plus, it’s now air-conditioned and lit with illuminated signs.
Join the official relaunch of Haw Par Villa and the opening of Hell’s Museum on 28 October at 6.30pm via the Facebook livestream. As part of the launch, there will also be plenty of events happening over the opening weekend (29 October to 31 October). Take a look at the events and the map below to help you plan your visit.
Look forward to Park Tours by the Haw Par Villa Park Ambassadors, Chinese Ink Painting classes & Tea Appreciation, Wu Tao Dance, Hypnotherapy Talk & Workshop, Breathwork & Yoga under the Stars, and special Halloween themed picnic sets by Glamping Society. Register to take part in the exciting launch weekend here.
Head down to the newly opened Visitor’s Centre right next to Hell’s Museum for some amazing souvenirs to commemorate the occasion, or look for senior citizen volunteers to help guide you around the park.
As part of reimagining Haw Par Villa, there will also be plenty of new exciting activities coming up in the next few months, such as a vintage cars display and rides, experiential art performances, and even the launch of a shipping container hotel at the park.
As the opening weekend coincides with Halloween, Hell’s Museum will also offer a special limited-edition souvenir to all who visit the museum decked out in their best Halloween costume. You can also head over to Haw Par Villa’s Instagram page to view their Hop! Par Villa Instagram trail, which shows you the best vantage points for photo opportunities.
There is also a new art installation in the park called Beyond the Veil Art x Tech, which uses augmented and virtual reality for an immersive individual experience in a dark room.
Hell’s Museum itself is a spectacular attraction to visit. The immersive exhibition features specially-commissioned videos and multi-media elements that offers visitors a better understanding of how different communities around the world, as well as in Singapore, perceive death and the afterlife.
Before entering the museum, take a moment to appreciate the mural on the wall at its entrance, which is based on the Mandala Flower and has symbolic meaning across several belief systems.
Hell’s Museum is made up of two sections, the museum itself and an outdoor sculpture garden. The museum has four stations for you to go through, while the sculpture garden has six stations. The ten stations are as follows:
- A Journey of 300,000 years
- Purgatory and Permanence: Paths into the Afterlife
- Ashes, Niches, and Graves: Living with Death
- Prayers and Verses: Scripting the Afterlife
- Buddhist and Taoist Icons
- The 10 Courts of Hell
- Virtues Amidst Challenges
- Karmic Kaleidoscope
- Village Temple
The first station presents a specially commissioned video about man and death to put you in a contemplative mood to tour the rest of the museum. It also has a trick-eye section representing Heaven and Hell for some fun photo opportunities.
Explore a world map of belief systems around the world at the second station, and discuss linear and cyclical concepts of time within different religious beliefs.
Station three is a definite must-see, as it showcases different ways death is handled around the world, as well as in Singapore. Watch videos on how other cultures go through their funeral rites.
You can also view a traditional Chinese void deck funeral while you’re there. The photo on the altar is not of a real person. Instead, it’s a photo composite of five different women.
Station three also features a mock burial crypt on the floor, and is covered by three layers of tempered glass for visitors to walk across.
Station four features an effigy of Da Shi Ye, also known as the King of Ghosts from Chinese beliefs, which is often burned during the seventh lunar month – Hungry Ghost Festival.
When you’re ready to get some fresh air and sunshine, check out the other six stations in the sculpture garden. Perhaps one of the more interesting stations in the garden, other than the famous 10 Courts of Hell, would be the Village Temple.
Replicating an old Village Temple, the shed allows you to see how our temples and altars have changed with time. Remember to bring an umbrella in case of wet weather when visiting the sculpture garden, and watch out for fire ants as you stroll in the gardens.
When you’re done exploring the museum and the garden, take a short walk to The Sixth Milestone and enjoy some local delights and refreshing drinks at the cafe bistro.
Overall, Hell’s Museum is definitely worth heading down to check out. Please note that the museum and park are not recommended for children under the age of nine due to the sensitive subject matter.
During the relaunch weekend, Haw Par Villa is open from 9am to 12 midnight, with the last entry being at 11.30pm, and Hell’s Museum is open from 10am to 8pm, with the last entry being at 7pm.
During regular operating hours, Haw Par Villa is open from 9am to 10pm, and Hell’s Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm, with the last entry being at 5pm.
Hell’s Museum tickets are priced at S$18 for adults (13 years and above), and for S$10 for children (7 to 12 years old). Purchase your tickets here.