Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Peranakan Museum opens

After half-a-day of work this afternoon, I headed for the Peranakan Museum on my own. Yes, the Peranakan Museum is now officially opened to the members of the public. Noel has a post on with a link to the various events for the Opening Festival of this museum.

Visitors to the Peranakan Museum have to be prepared to queue up to enter the museum. For this weekend, admission to the museum is free. I suppose that drew the crowd. I was thankful that I only had to queue for less than 10 minutes before I was allowed to enter into the museum. There seem to be a longer queue by the middle part of the afternoon.

At the open space just next to the Perankan Museum, there was a bazaar. Visitors can purchase Peranakan food and crafts at the bazaar. In addition, one can even learn how to make a few Peranakan dishes at the bazaar. In addition, various cultural performances were being staged on the stage that you would see in the photo right below. I had to wear ear filters throughout the bazaar as the noise from the speakers was too loud for me.

Interestingly, inside the museum, visitors can be treated to BABAS & NONYAS – Live Drama in the Museum!, produced by Dick Lee, who himself has Peranakan roots. BABAS & NONYAS is a live drama in which the actors interact with the visitors. The actors would share anecdotes of either the exhibits on display or of the Peranakan culture. It seems like BABAS & NONYAS will only be performed during the weekends of the Opening Festival of the museum, during specified timings.

There are quite a number of interesting things to learn at the museum. There are a total of ten main galleries in the museum. One entire level of the museum is dedicated to the wedding ceremonies and preparations of the Peranakan. At the museum, one can also learn more about the dining customs of the Peranakan, and the lives of a few of the prominent pioneers in Singapore's history with Peranakan roots.

As there was too large a crowd today, I decided to just have a quick glance at the exhibits. I suppose I could visit the museum on another day when it is not as crowded.

Meantime, this is one museum that one can visit in Singapore to learn more about the culture of the Peranakans.

Peranakan Museum
39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941.

Opening hours:
Monday: 1pm to 7pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 9.30am – 7pm (to 9 pm on Fridays)

For more information, please refer to this link.


Dak Rantau said...

The museum was nice...despite the crowd on the first day, can still manage to enjoy the exhibits.. went with my friend yesterday too :)

oceanskies79 said...

Dak Rantau: Thank you for visiting this blog. Glad to know you have enjoyed the museum.

I managed to set myself feet to almost all, if not all, the galleries yesterday despite the crowd. Then again, knowing that I prefer not to be in a crowd, I shall visit the museum on another day. Perhaps when there is full admission charges.

eastcoastlife said...

I was there on Sunday for the Peranakan wedding but the crowd was huge! Happy to see that. The queue to enter the museum was so long, I queued until I got sick and had to leave early. Going back again this weekend. Try my luck. :)

Weichong said...

Nice post!

Its going to be quite crowded for the first month or so I suppose.

I'm going tonight, hope that I can have a good look at the exhibits despite the crowd. :)

oceanskies79 said...

Wei Chong: There are so much to see that I think I may need at least five visits to the museum.

I remember when the Asian Civilisation Museum (Armenian St) was in the same building with exhibits related to Peranakan culture being put on display, I would be visiting at least once every month....sometimes more.

Burgerkhim said...

Confront This Culture Coup

THE new Peranakan Museum in Singapore has opened its doors to visitors (The Star, April 24) and, judging by the success they have had with the Asian Civilizations Museum, it is a safe bet to say that this museum, housed in an old school, will generate the same excitement among history buffs and tourists.

Singaporeans can be forgiven if they show a glint in their eyes over this museum, but it is no laughing matter for the Malaysian Government.

The Malaysian Ministry of Unity, Cultural, Arts and Heritage and the Museum Department must confront this culture coup earnestly.

Heritage-loving Malaysians are disappointed that invaluable Peranakan artifacts are now in the hands of foreigners and we should demand that Malaysia adopt a more proactive stance to champion local heritage.

Malacca, Penang and many of the Malay states were the early points of entry for Chinese immigrants who came here to work. They subsequently assimilated with the locals to form this unique culture we have come to call Peranakan, or the not-so-politically-correct term – Baba and Nyonya.

Singapore or Temasik was then just the occasional pirate hideout. Thus, it is not ridiculous to stake claim that Malaysia is the rightful birthplace of the Peranakan heritage.

Countless theses and study papers from local and foreign universities have been done on the community’s unique racial composition and highlighted the role its members play in Malaysian society. Whatever the festive occasions, the Peranakan are exemplified for their multi-racial outlook and multi-cultural practices.

There is a popular Baba and Nyonya Museum operated by Chan Kim Lay and his family in Malacca. It is a favourite with tourists who are willing to pay top dollar to see first-hand the culture, decorations and architecture associated with the Peranakan.

In the late 90s, there was talk about a Jabatan Museum project to build a similar Peranakan Museum along Heeren Street in Malacca. Nothing came out of it and as we all know now, Singapore has beaten us to it.

It is not an exaggeration if we consider this seemingly “oversight” a tip of the iceberg.

We have new archeological finds and reveal fascinating insights about the A Famosa fortress and its two unearthed Portuguese bastions in Malacca. Yet Jabatan Muzium’s and the state government’s enthusiasm is found wanting.

Lembah Bujang with its 1,000-year-old candis around Gunung Jerai are left neglected, although conservationists have acknowledged that Lembah Bujang is in the same league with Angkor Wat and Borobodur.

However, no proper recognition or planning is forthcoming and this historical treasure is just accorded a brief mention in a tour itinerary, if at all.

Malaysians should not lament that Malaysia has no historical attractions to offer.

The Ministry responsible for our heritage and culture must be bold enough to embrace the wealth that our multicultural and multi-racial society has to offer.