21 lesser known museums in Singapore you need to visit for a refreshing insight into our heritage

Many people go to museums either for dates to admire the art found in the building and take photos, or to genuinely learn more about the history of the artefacts presented within the museum. At this point, you might be getting bored of visiting museums simply because you have always only been visiting the well-known museums such as the Singapore Arts Museum, National Museum of Singapore, and ArtScience Museum.

Instead of heading there again this weekend, perhaps it’s time for a change where you explore to lesser known museums in Singapore. We’ve come up with a list of 21 of such places so that you can have a more interesting and fun experience with your partner, friends, and even little ones. Have fun!

1. Former Ford Factory

Delve deeper into Singapore’s history with the Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies exhibition presented by the National Archives of Singapore at Former Ford Factory. This building is the exact place where British forces surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942.

Credit: National Archives of Singapore

The exhibition starts off with the history of the Former Ford Factory and how Singaporeans lived before the war. It then transitions into details of the fall of Singapore, including fresh perspectives that illustrate Japanese aggression, British defences, and how civilians in Singapore dealt with everything back then.

The Former Ford Factory is quite possibly one of the most underrated museums in Singapore, and it’s definitely a good place to check out especially if you’re looking to educate your little ones about their homeland.

Address: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588192
Opening hours: 9am to 5.30pm (Tue – Sun)
Admission fee: Free for Citizens, Permanent Residents, children aged six and below, Friends of the Museums (FOM) and one guest for each FOM member | S$3 per person for foreign visitors

2. JCU Museum of Video & Computer Games

You’ve probably heard of museums detailing history and museums displaying artworks, but did you know that Singapore also has a video game museum?

The JCU Museum of Video and Computer Games features a collection of well-known retro consoles such as the original Xbox and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), as well as less-known ones like the Vectrex and the Magnavox Odyssey.

Credit: James Cook University

Travel back in time and feel the nostalgia kick in as you take a look at the various accompanying games. You can even get to play some of these retro gems!

Address: 149 Sims Drive, Singapore 389980
Admission fee: Free, but appointment is required via Facebook

3. Jurong Frog Farm

Explore the Jurong Frog Farm and learn more about their Bullfrogs in a fun and unique way! During your visit, you can choose to navigate the farm on a self-tour, feed the frogs, challenge yourself to catch them, and even interact with them.

Credit: Jurong Frog Farm/Instagram

The activities here are suitable for all ages, and the farm usually caters to families with little ones who are curious to learn more about the amphibians. Go on the Gabbe’s Family Tour programme and watch a show-and-tell led by their Frogologist, view the life cycle display exhibit, feed the frogs, and even try out some frog meat at the end of the session. You’ll also be given a souvenir to commemorate the day.

Address: 51 (Plot 56) Lim Chu Kang Lane 6, Singapore 718864
Opening hours: 9am to 5.30pm (Sat & Sun)
Admission fee: From S$10 per pax

4. Katong Antique House

Located in a two-storey shophouse in Katong, the Katong Antique House allows you to experience the daily life of a Peranakan and gain a better understanding of the Peranakan history and culture through the artefacts, costumes, and furniture.

Credit: Pelago

Step foot into the 100-year-old house and be amazed by the number of artefacts on display. This is definitely an educational tour that you would want to sign yourself up for!

Address: 208 East Coast Road, Singapore 428907
Opening hours: 11am to 4.30pm (Mon – Sun)
Admission fee: S$15 per pax

5. MINT Museum of Toys

MINT Museum of Toys offers a treasure trove of vintage toys and collectable items, including vintage posters, confectionery tin boxes, advertising signs, and more. To date, the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 items, with 8,500 of them on display. The collection is made up of toys and items from over 40 countries and were launched between the 1840s and 1980s.

Credit: Visit Singapore

To facilitate a better viewing experience, the museum has divided the collection into four thematic levels – Outerspace, Characters, Childhood Favourites, and Collectables. There is also an enamel sign gallery on the rooftop level which serves as a bar that overlooks the City Centre where you can chill for drinks after browsing through the collection.

Take a trip down the memory lane and admire the toys in the collection. Don’t forget to also take this time to introduce your childhood toys to your little ones!

Address: 26 Seah Street, Singapore 188382
Opening hours: 9.30am to 6.30pm
Admission fee: From S$15 per pax

6. Nanyang Old Coffee & Museum

Nothing beats the Singapore Traditional Coffee, not even coffee from the renowned cafes that many people tend to go to these days.

Every cup of Singapore coffee is hand brewed using the unique Singapore coffee brewing pot with a long spout and a coffee strainer, and the coffee is tailor-made to each individual’s preference. The coffee is then poured into a traditional green flora porcelain cup with a thick rim that helps keep the coffee warm for a longer period of time.

Credit: Travelfish

Enjoy a cup of old-school coffee as well some traditional Chinese biscuits or pair the coffee with a local favourite of kaya toast at Nanyang Old Coffee. After you’re done savouring a good ol’ cup of coffee, head to the back of the cafe to take a look at the small coffee museum.

The museum features coffee traditions, antique coffee cups, brewing equipment, as well as the uniform traditionally worn by the workers when they worked at Chinese coffee shops. This is definitely an interesting experience, especially if you’re a coffee connoisseur.

Address: 268 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058817
Opening hours: 7am to 6.30pm (Mon – Sun)

7. Police Heritage Centre

Learn all about the rich history of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) through the exhibits and multimedia displays at the Police Heritage Centre. The exhibits detail the challenges SPF faced in the earlier days where secret societies were prominent and discuss how community policing has allowed Singapore to fight crime effectively to become one of the safest countries around.

Credit: TripAdvisor

The Police Heritage Centre is definitely one of the more interesting museums to check out, especially if you’re interested to look deeper into the history of Singapore.

Unfortunately, the museum is closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but you can check out their website or their official Facebook page for updates on their reopening. In the meantime, you can still learn about the history by viewing the virtual tour of their SPF Exhibition – “Frontier Town to Safest City” here.

Address: 28 Irrawaddy Road, Police Headquarters, Singapore 329560
Opening hours: 10am to 4pm (Tue – Fri) | 10am to 1pm (Sat & Eve of PH)
Admission fee: Free, but appointment is required

8. Reflections at Bukit Chandu

When it comes to learning more about the Japanese Occupation and the fall of Singapore, most people would probably go to well-known museums such as the National Museum of Singapore or Fort Siloso.

If you would like to get deeper insights into the war, particularly the Battle of Pasir Panjang and how the men of the Malay Regiment fought in it, you should definitely pay Reflections at Bukit Chandu a visit.

Credit: Reflections at Bukit Chandu/Facebook

Reflections at Bukit Chandu is an interpretative centre housed in a bungalow that displays contextual artefacts to paint a picture of how it was like back then. Immerse yourself in the stories of the peaceful period before the war, as well as how 1,400 of our soldiers bravely fought off 13,000 soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army on 14 February 1942 during the war. Despite being outnumbered, Lieutenant Adnan Saidi insisted that they hold their ground and in the end, they fought to their deaths.

Learn all about the brave and heroic sacrifices of the Malay Regiment through interactive exhibits when you visit Reflections at Bukit Chandu.

Address: 31-K Pepys Road, Singapore 118458
Opening hours: 9.30am to 5pm (Tue – Sun)
Admission fee: Free for Citizens and Permanent Residents | S$5 per person for foreign visitors

9. Shimano Cycling World

For cycling enthusiasts, the Shimano Cycling World is a must-visit. The experiential museum was opened to enrich our local cycling culture and to promote cycling as a lifestyle in Singapore. It features a multitude of cycling exhibits including a moving piece of art installation.

Credit: Shimano Cycling World

Explore all the cycling paths in Singapore and share your own journeys with the rest of Singapore by uploading your trip journals and sharing photos of how it went down! Join the cycling community and help to raise more awareness on the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of cycling.

Avid cyclists can also sign up for the Bike Cruise to ride on park connectors with like-minded individuals and explore Singapore together, or sign up for the free Basic Bike Maintenance Workshop to learn more about how to fix up an old bike.

Address: 6 Stadium Walk, #01-02, Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore 397698
Opening hours: 10am to 8pm (Mon – Fri) | 10am to 9pm (Sat & Sun)
Admission fee: Free

10. Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

How many Chinese people in Singapore can confidently say that they know everything there is to know about their own culture?

There’s always something new to learn, and one of the best places you can learn more about the Chinese Singaporean culture is through the exhibition Singapo人: Discovering Chinese Singaporean Culture at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.

Credit: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

The exhibition is spread across five interactive zones of food, language, traditions, popular culture, and music that each highlight elements that contribute to the identity of a Chinese Singaporean. Take your time to browse through the artefacts that were kindly contributed by the community, including loans from local personalities such as Stefanie Sun and Anthony Chen!

Address: 1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore 018906
Opening hours: 2pm to 8pm (Mon) | 10am to 8pm (Tue – Sun)
Admission fee: Free

11. Singapore Chinese Opera Museum

Today, our form of entertainment comes from streaming television shows and movies, but back in the days, Chinese Opera was one of the biggest forms of entertainment. To commemorate the artform and bring more attention to it, the Singapore Chinese Opera Museum was opened.

Credit: The New Age Parents

The museum features the history of Chinese Opera in Singapore, ever since the Southern Chinese set foot on our sunny island. Admire the costumes, props, styles as well types of opera – Cantonese, Teochew, Qiong, Hokkien (Xiang Opera, Li Yuan Opera, and Gezai Opera), and Yue Opera – as you navigate through the museum.

Address: 100 Jalan Sultan, Sultan Plaza, Singapore 199001
Opening hours: 11am to 6pm (Tue – Fri)
Admission fee: Free

12. Singapore Mobility Gallery

With a total of seven exhibition zones, the Singapore Mobility Gallery serves as a museum where you get to take an insider look into how the Land Transport Authority (LTA) plans, designs, and builds our land transport system while maintaining efficiency, liveability, and inclusivity.

Credit: TripAdvisor

Engage in interactive activities where you will get to be a transport planner and challenge yourself to plan an efficient and sustainable transport network. You’ll also get the chance to train public transport workers via Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experiential activities!

Address: Block 1, 1 Hampshire Road, Level 1, Land Transport Authority – Corporate Headquarters, Singapore 219428
Opening hours: 9.30am to 5pm (Mon – Fri)
Admission fee: Free, but appointment is required by booking via a form

13. Singapore Musical Box Museum

Explore Singapore’s first musical box museum and find out how Singapore played an important role in the progress and development of musical boxes in Southeast Asia back in the 19th and early 20th century.

Musical boxes were believed to be first invented in 1770 in Switzerland, and they started to get popular in the beginning of the 19th century because they were simply stunning. Gain a better understanding of the rise and fall of musical boxes through the guided tour, and view the various antique musical boxes on display.

Credit: Singapore Musical Box Museum

Due to the nature and sensitivity of the exhibit, guided tours are compulsory. As such, bookings will have to be made prior to visiting the museum via the official website or Klook.

Address: 168 Telok Ayer Street, Thian Hock Keng Temple, Singapore 068619
Opening hours: 10am to 5.30pm (Wed – Mon, closed on Tue)
Admission fee: S$12 for adults | S$6 for students and senior citizens above the age of 60 (valid verification is required) | Free for children aged six and below

14. Straits Enclave

Interested to know more about the Peranakan culture? Head down to Straits Enclave for a fully immersive Peranakan experience where you’ll get to attend workshops to learn new skills on Peranakan beading through a guided session by Peranakan beading expert Nyonya Angeline, get dressed in Peranakan Kebayas to take lovely photos, and enjoy Peranakan kuehs and coffee or tea to end off the session on a tasty note.

Credit: Straits Enclave

The visit will be filled with exciting new opportunities to learn more about the culture, stories, and artefacts!

Slots for the workshops get filled very quickly, so do book early if you want to avoid disappointment. You can keep a lookout for the release of booking dates on Straits Enclave’s Facebook page or ticketing page.

Address: 318A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427569
Opening hours: By appointments only
Admission fee: From S$20

15. Tan Tock Seng Hospital Heritage Museum

Nobody likes going to the hospital, but perhaps this museum might make visits slightly less sombre. The Tan Tock Seng Hospital Heritage Museum is a museum that was set up in 2001 in honour of the hospital’s founder, Mr Tan Tock Seng.

It features a collection of Peranakan items that were available from the mid-1800s, medical equipment, and hospital artefacts that depict what was used back in those days when Tan Tock Seng Hospital was established as the first community hospital that cared “for the sick poor of all nations”.

Credit: Straits Times

The museum also details the hospital’s development and achievements, particularly its crucial role in treating severe illnesses like tuberculosis and SARS.

Address: 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore 308433
Opening hours: 8.30am to 6pm (Mon – Fri)
Admission fee: Free

16. The Cathay Gallery

By now, most of us would be familiar with The Cathay. In fact, many of us probably visited its cinema to catch weekly movies with our loved ones since it was first opened. But did you know that there is also a gallery open under the cinema chain?

Credit: Cathay Organisation

The Cathay Gallery is a hidden museum nestled within The Cathay, and it is a paradise for all film enthusiasts. Here, you can take your time to admire the huge collection of vintage cameras as well as the stunning costumes that were once worn by famous actresses. Vintage movie posters are also put on display in this gallery, along with snippets of classic films from the 50s and 60s.

This is definitely an interesting experience for those who love to watch films, and would make for a cute date with your loved one.

Address: 2 Handy Road, #02-16, The Cathay, Singapore 229233
Opening hours: 2pm to 6pm (Mon – Fri) | 12pm to 6pm (Sat)
Admission fee: Free

17. The Gem Museum

Explore the world of gemstones by heading over to The Gem Museum where you get a detailed look into how gemstones that are mined are transformed and prepared for market through four critical stages.

The museum also organises workshops and webinars to educate the public more on specific types of gemstones. You might think that this may be a little too complicated to bring your little ones to, but The Gem Museum actually has a Junior Rockstar programme for kids who are interested to know more about rocks and minerals.

Credit: The Gem Museum

Reviews have shown that the workshops are both interesting and insightful, so you can definitely consider this as a family bonding activity!

At the time of writing, the museum is temporarily closed. However, workshops are still open and you can book a slot through their website. You can also join a virtual tour of the museum if you’re eager to learn more immediately. Do keep a lookout on their website as they will update the reopening of the museum soon!

Address: 9 Perak Road, Singapore 208130
Admission fee: From S$40.88 for workshops

18. The Intan

Those who are deeply interested in the Peranakan culture can also pay a visit to The Intan, which is a museum that houses the owner’s collection of Peranakan artefacts over the years.

The moment you step into the museum, it will feel as if you’ve been transported into the Peranakan world. Be amazed by beautiful pots and intricate jewellery as you explore the museum. Before the pandemic hit, guests were treated to a cup of tea during their visit as they chat more with the owner about the various artefacts available. However, due to current safe management measures, guests will no longer be served tea. Instead, you will receive an exclusive museum label gift worth up to S$15.

Credit: Klook

There are also other unique experiences that you can choose, like a private dinner, a magic show, and family bonding activities.

Do note that appointments must be booked in order for you to visit as arrangements need to be made to ensure that the museum is in accordance with the measures.

Address: 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231
Opening hours: 7am to 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Admission fee: From S$64.20 for a guided tour with light afternoon tea
Website | Klook

19. The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum

Many of us go to the zoo for notable animals like lions, tigers, snakes, pandas, and such, but nobody really pays much attention to the turtles and tortoises.

The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum

Show some love for turtles and tortoises by paying a visit to The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum! This museum is home to the Alligator Turtle, Radiated Tortoise, Sulcata Tortoise, Pig Nose Flying Turtle, and more, and you can find out all about them here, something that you hardly get to experience.

You get to pet the turtles and even hand feed some of them, making this a truly immersive experience for both adults and kids alike.

Address: 81 Lorong Chencharu, #01-16, ORTO, Singapore 769198
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm (Mon, Wed – Sun, closed on Tue)
Admission fee: From S$6

20. The Singapore Ants Museum

As long as you’ve got some sweet treats nearby, you would have seen ants crawling around. Seeing as to how they’re a common sight, you probably wouldn’t want to visit a museum dedicated to these insects. However, the Singapore Ants Museum has proven itself to be quite the spectacle.

Credit: The Singapore Ants Museum

Embark on a fun and educational tour where you get to observe the minute actions of more than 50 species of native ants. Be amazed by how they forage for food, take care of their queen and the eggs, and go about doing their daily tasks!

Address: 359 Upper Paya Lebar Road, Singapore 534961
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm (Sat, Sun, PH and School Holiday)
Admission fee: S$18

21. Vintage Cameras Museum & Click Art Museum

If you love taking photos with a camera, you’ll certainly want to make your way down to the Vintage Cameras Museum and Click Art Museum for a day of fun.

Credit: TripAdvisor

Explore the world of vintage cameras where you get to not only admire, but also pick up and play with them at this museum. There are more than 1,000 cameras here, ranging from the smallest spy cameras that can fit into your palm, to a huge six-metre long camera. You’ll get to take a look at how photos were taken in the past, as well as view replicas of historically significant photographs.

Once you’re done with the Vintage Cameras Museum, pop by the Click Art Museum where you can take perspective shots just like what you would do in the Trick Eye Museum.

Address: 8D Jalan Kledek, Singapore 199263
Opening hours: 10.30am to 7.30pm (Mon – Sun)
Admission fee: From S$15