Singapore is young as a country, and much of the country’s history can be told through the journey of stamps. Stamps had existed long before Singapore’s founding and the Singapore Philatelic Museum is a one stop place for everything you want to know about it. The stamp museum is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, it sits in a century-old, double-floored, colonial building spanning two floors tucked along Coleman Street, just off Hillstreet just behind the Hillstreet fire station.
The museum used to be an old school built in 1906 and was part of the Anglo Chinese School (ACS) compound. It officially reopened as a museum on 19 August 1995 and is currently under the care of the National Heritage Board (NHB) as a fully-owned subsidiary since April 2000.
The venue is a little gem of a museum and is known for its rather contemporary, cool and interestingly quirky temporary special exhibitions, refreshed throughout the year, and largely based on current topics. The ground floor entrance is home to the museum giftshop and reception counter, where you can purchase entrance tickets costing $8 per person ($6 for children), granting you access to all permanent and temporary exhibitions (free for Singaporeans and PRs). Being a stamp museum too means they also sell stamps and you can weigh and post mail here too.
The museum focuses on discovery and exploration of different topics such as science, technology, history and culture. Two permanent galleries reside on the ground floor. The Orange Room is one such gallery dedicated to the history of the Singapore postal services around the country, reminiscent you can recognize a familiar thing or two here from the postal services we see of the yesteryear.
The museum regularly organises educational activities for schools and the public to educate on the heritage of Singapore and that of other countries through philately. One such area is the event atrium hall at the ground floor which is regularly themed to current special exhibitions. One of the galleries here as well as the event hall is reserved for special exhibitions.
As a custodian and curator of Singapore’s treasure of philatelic materials, the last gallery on the ground floor houses an archival of Singapore’s entire philatelic material (stamps) from the 1830s to present day, as well as some notable stamp collections from member countries of the Universal Postal Union. You can view them in the Archival room via slide-out drawers from the walls in the room.
A narrow staircase by the museum ground entrance brings you up to the second and top-most floor of the museum. Here, a common corridor overlooks the Event hall. Entrances to the various galleries up here line this walkway and are also home to two temporary/special exhibition galleries, and two permanent galleries showcasing Singapore postal history- The Room of Rarities and the Heritage Room.
The Room of Rarities introduces you to the world of philately through stamps and archived philatelic material from 1800s to the present. This includes the world’s first stamp, artifacts relating to Singapore’s postal history, teaching how stamps are a window to the world.
The Heritage Room is non-philatelic display, focusing on the early trading life in Singapore as a port in the 1900, growth from pre-colonial era from 1819. Here, you can find out about early traditional trades, different cultural festivals of Singapore. The corridor on second floor also houses a mock-up display of the myriad of local food delicacies, and a collection of model Post boxes from all over the world, possibly Singapore’s most extensive collection of model post boxes from all over the world.
The exhibits, including the special galleries are often suitable for all ages, and are kid-friendly. Despite the museum’s small size, the galleries are loaded with information, very well put-together with a high-quality of graphical content, complete with very friendly museum staff. You can often find yourself engaged with the various exhibits here, often staying in the excessive of 2-3 hours or so exploring all the museum galleries. It is definitely good for a short visit for both the old and young in the heart of the city.
You can check out more photos of the Singapore Philatelic Museum here.