Asian Civilisations Museum is a historical museum focused on Asian cultures, with an interest within South East Asia, East Asia and India. It is home to a number of anthropology artefacts, particular those focused on indigenous cultures and trade which made up part of Singapore’s early settlement life and within the region too. Let’s a walkabout and explore the galleries within.

Asian Civilisations Museum by the Singapore Central Business district and bay area by the Singapore River
Asian Civilisations Museum by the Singapore Central Business district and bay area by the Singapore River.

Additionally, the museum is located at Empress Place, on the north bank of the Singapore River in the Downtown Core. Previously, the building is a Civic and Government Office building. The museum lobby and entrance faces the iconic and historical Fullerton hotel along the Singapore River.

Lobby
Giftshop
Stairs skylight

Here, the Cavenagh Bridge sits right in front of the museum entrance. It spans the lower reaches of the Singapore River in the city Downtown Core and is the only suspension bridge and one of the oldest bridges in Singapore history.

Early trade gallery

Furthermore, the trade gallery is a center piece of the museum ground floor comprising of two main gallery rooms. You enter the museum right into the Trade gallery. Here you can find behind glass-lined cabinets pots, porcelain and china. Also, there are items typically for trade in Singapore when merchants pass through the country connecting Europe and Asia.

The Asian Civilisations Museum Early Trade gallery and first gallery at the museum's ground floor focused on items and documentation of early Singapore trade, such as ceramics and paintings
The Asian Civilisations Museum Early Trade gallery and first gallery at the museum’s ground floor focused on items and documentation of early Singapore trade, such as ceramics and paintings.

In addition, the museum lobby is where you can find a gift shop in the learning gallery on the right and a foyer and café operated by Prive. Also, the museum grounds is also home to a the Empress restaurant, smart casual Chinese restaurant facing the Singapore River.

Tang Ship wreck

Asian Civilisations Museum spick and span Tang ship wreck gallery at the museum's Riverfront wing. It houses savaged items from the sunken ship.
The spick and span Tang ship wreck gallery at the museum’s Riverfront wing. Also, it houses savaged items from the sunken ship.

Connecting from the trade gallery is a highlight gallery in the Riverfront wing. It is home to the treasures of the Tang shipwreck found just off the shores of Sumatra. Also, this gallery is one of the more impressive galleries in the museum.

Vast galleries
Entire gallery
Tang galleries

Additionally, you are greeted by a curated display of items unearthed during a 1998 excavation of items dating nearly 1100 years ago. Moreover, the halls are spick and span with reflective walls and a view of the Singapore River out the windows.

Bowls
China
Donated model ship

The background is that an Arab ship bearing precious cargo set sail from the port of Canton, China which sank near Singapore. Also, the hand paintings on the ceramic bowls does give a glimpse into the early life of the travellers for its time.

Riverside
Fine art
Maritime

Furthermore, during my visit, there was an SG Fashion temporary display in the ground floor of the Kwek Hong Png wing. It is situated near the future galleries. Also, you can find a curation of various ladies gowns here.

Fashion show
Displays
Furniture

Asian anthropology and Ancient religions

Moreover, moving up the second floor houses more of the permanent galleries. Here, you can find those of anthropology of mainly South East Asian region. These galleries are home to various collected and purchased religious pieces, containers, cravings and sculptures from the forest tribes.

Starting gallery to the Asian Civilisations Museum Religious gallery on the second floor
Starting gallery to the Religious artifact gallery on the Museum’s second floor.

Also, these artefacts, which makes up part and parcel of early east Asian tribal community life. Interestingly, the center stage includes preserved large pieces of house facades and ceremonial wooden sculptures.

Ancient religions
Pala dynasty
Vast items

Additionally, the galleries here are dimly lit, presumably to protect the exhibits form UV degradation. Furthermore, the far end of the houses the special exhibitions gallery which is usually closed off unless there is one running.

The South East Asian cultures second floor galleries Asian Civilisations Museum
The South East Asian cultures second floor galleries.

In addition, other ancient religions gallery, also includes Christianity and Islam gallery. Theses minor galleries houses a series of paintings, cabinets and murals depicting various respective religious scenes. They are logically laid behind sealed glass cabinets.

Islamic world
Stick puppets
Christian

Hinduism gallery

Furthermore, the Hinduism gallery houses items from the Pala Dynasty during the 8-12th centuries from North-eastern India and Bangladesh. Also, the items on display here are from sacred sites related to Buddha’s life events.

Asian Civilisations Museum vast galleries of early tribal South east asian tribal life covering regional anthropology
The vast galleries of early tribal South east asian tribal life covering regional anthropology.

Moreover, there is a focus on Tantric Buddhism as depicted by the cultures of the Chola and Vijaynagar dynasties form the 9-16th century. Also, these are displayed through a mix of wooden figures, tapestry and paintings.

Southeast Asian gallery

Additionally, wrapping up, the top third floor houses minor galleries focused on South East Asian Sumatra tribal jewellery, especially those used in ceremonies and weddings. Also, these separate galleries devoted to ceramics and fashion and textiles and ceramics. These are told through various digital exhibits with items behind glass.

Tribal costumes
Textiles
Clothing

Lastly wrapping up is the Kwek Hong Png wing is a separate building linked to the main galleries via connecting bridges. Also, here you can find the Chinese scholar’s gallery. It houses a range early Chinese dynasty scholar equipment, porcelain and furniture.

Asian Civilisations Museum Scholars gallery within the Kwek Hong Png wing
The Chinese scholars gallery within the Kwek Hong Png wing.

Moreover, here, you can marvel at the items and luxuries scholars have in the early days from the dressing, tables, writing instruments and even interesting items includes a cloth cheat sheet with tiny hand written brush strokes.

Cheat sheet
Kwek Hong Png wing
Ceramics

Also, this wing is also home to a China ceramics gallery. You can find several intricate China pieces made into everyday pieces. It marvels to wonder how can you model such brittle objects into fine shapes. An art and craft skill in itself.

Asian Civilisations Museum Intricate and highly detailed ceramics in the small standalone wing.
Intricate and highly detailed Chinese ceramics in the small standalone gallery wing.

All in all, you are good at the Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum for about 3 hours tops. This involves exploring all the galleries at a comfortable pace. The museum is open 10am–7pm daily. Entry is free for all Singaporeans and costs and $20 for adults.

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