Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Singapore Philatelic Museum and The Peranakan Museum

Museums are excellent places for knowledge and history. Big museums like the National Museum are very popular among Singaporeans. However, why not show some love to smaller niche museums like the Singapore Philatelic Museum and the Peranakan Museum? In this article, we will give you a short walkthrough of both and why you should make a trip down someday.


What is the Singapore Philatelic Museum?

The Singapore Philatelic Museum aims to educate the public about Singapore's postal history. It's more than just about mailing your letters and Point A to Point B. That's where the museum comes in, to showcase all the inner workings and history on how Singapore's postal industry operates.

Though the location is quite hidden, the museum is just a 10-minute walk from City Hall MRT Station and it's completely free for Singapore Citizens.

Old And Phased Out Mailboxes

When it comes to mailing our letters, we need to find a mailbox. In fact, they're so essential they are mostly found in high traffic places like MRT stations and bus interchanges. Singapore's mailboxes are mostly either silver-coloured or white-coloured with blue stripes and have gone through many iterations and they have even changed operator hands over the years.

One notable operator was the TAS or the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore, the predecessor to local telco, SingTel. In this exhibit, there's a showcase of all the previous mailboxes that were in use. Also, before the common SAM Machine, a machine that lets you buy postage stamps and pay your bills, there used to be a yellow vending machine that dispense stamp booklets called the Stamp Booklet Vending Machine which was eventually phased out.

Head downstairs and you will find a mailbox modelled after the iconic London mailboxes. Who would've known that the humble Singapore mailbox has so much history behind it.

Stamps, Stamps And Stamps

Before inserting our letters into the mailbox ready to be mailed out, it's necessary to paste a stamp on the corner of your envelope. But did you know that stamps also have significant value as well? It's one of the most popular collectibles around the world and it's so significant that the Singapore Post, has released stamp collections to commemorate special events like the Youth Olympic Games back in 2010.

In this exhibition, you get to see the different stamp collections released every year by Singapore Post. Famous stamp collectors from around the world were also featured to show how popular and significant the hobby of stamp collecting is.

Our Forefathers

Another exhibit worth a visit is one that highlights all the efforts all our forefathers have put in to ensure Singapore's progress. More of like a mini museum, the exhibit showcases the kinds of jobs our forefathers used to take on.

You also get to see their work tools, a spice rack and the interior of the typical shophouses that used to house them. The exhibition was worth a visit and the old world charm was definitely a nice touch.

Singapore's Economic Progress

Right over here, you can see the evolution of Singapore's economic progress throughout the years since independence. At each phase of progress like the launch of the Clean and Green Singapore campaign, a stamp collection was released to commemorate the special occasion. Each stamp collection tells a story which is probably why stamp collecting is so popular.

Snoopy And Charlie Brown

During our last visit to the museum, a promotional collaboration with The Peanuts Movie based on the Peanuts franchise was ongoing. As part of the collaboration, the museum set up a temporary postal exhibition in the theme of the Peanuts characters. There were stamp collections, drawings and comic strips based on the franchise inside.

Want to know the history and the story behind Charlie Brown and his friend, Snoopy. The temporary exhibition has all you need to know behind these classic characters. It's a great place for fans but too bad it's long over. The Singapore Philatelic Museum will have more temporary exhibitions like this from time to time so do check back for updates.

The Gift Shop

Like typical museums, there has to be a gift shop. It's a way for the museum to fund its operations and a way for visitors to take a piece of memory of the museum home. You can purchase special stamp collections along with other postal-related souvenirs like the model of the humble Singapore post box that range from the current design to the predecessor designs.


What Is The Peranakan Museum?

The Peranakan Museum is Singapore's first (and probably only) museum dedicated to the Peranakan culture in Singapore. Previously an extension to the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Peranakan Museum occupies the former Tao Nan School, a public school founded by a group of Chinese philanthropists from the Singapore Hokkien Association.

Peranakan is said to be a mixture of both the Chinese and the Malay culture. The Peranakans are usually referred to as "Babas" and they usually have a unique way of dressing, a food culture they can call their own and much more. If you are curious about the history or perhaps the whole culture in general, the Peranakan Museum is the perfect place.

Singapore's Peranakans

The first level houses an exhibition that describes the Peranakan culture in general. There are faces of everyday Peranakan people young and old on the wall, how processions are carried out by the Peranakans are highlighted front and centre and so on.

This exhibition is more of like a condensed version of all the exhibitions in the museum. Of course, if you want to know more, just go up and take a look at the featured exhibitions.

How Peranakans In Singapore Led Their Lives

Various exhibitions that show how Peranakans in Singapore led their lives in the past and present are shown in detail right here. On display are the various kinds of traditional clothing and fixtures worn and used and it gives visitors a curious glimpse of their lives. Quite an eye-opening experience I would say.

Just like a typical museum, it also shows the history of the Peranakans, how they led their lives like how their weddings were held and even how their funerals were held too along with the food and recipes they created. The museum is so in-depth with their showcase of the Peranakan culture that its better if you were to visit them first-hand.

The ACM Cat

Outside the building, a sculpture of a cat is sitting on the steps in memory of a cat that used to reside here. Called the ACM Cat, it was named after the Asian Civilisations Museum as it was formerly called being officially renamed to the current Peranakan Museum name. A very nice and touching tribute indeed.


Overall, if you are curious about Singapore's postal history or maybe you are an avid stamp collector, the Singapore Philatelic Museum is the place to go. Or maybe if you are interested in the Peranakan culture in Singapore, the Peranakan Museum is the perfect place.

In fact, why not just visit both? They're both located nearby and within walking distance from City Hall MRT Station and free for Singapore Citizens. They're perfect places for you to visit on a weekend. I can assure you that smaller and niche museums like these are almost as good as the bigger mainstream ones.

Getting Here

Bus services available: 2, 12, 32, 33, 51, 61, 63, 80, 197 (Bus stop along Hill Street outside Armenian Church)

Nearest MRT station: EW13/NS25 City Hall MRT Station (East West Line/North South Line)


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