We’re always on the lookout for cool adventures to try with (and without!) the kids in tow, and interactive exhibits and awesome museums for families are aways a surefire activity winner. We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to hands-on culture opps for kids here in sunny Singapore. One of our ultimate cultural faves, Haw Par Villa (pictured top) is reopening on 1 March after being closed for renovation, and there’s certainly bucketloads more of year-round fun to look forward to in the world of exhibits for kids. Hot tip: A few of these awesome picks are finishing soon, so get busy checking them out before they roll out of town!
Sakura Matsuri, Gardens by the Bay
9 to 31 March
Spring into the Sakura Matsuri Floral Display as it returns this year. The Flower Dome will be blooming with more than 20 varieties of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. Stroll through Torii gates, cross a red wooden bridge and peer through iconic marumado circle windows. There will also be Japanese culture programmes happening around Gardens by the Bay including tea ceremonies, blood-pumping music and dance performances and delicious food stalls at Sakura Matsuri: Nippon Street.
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953; www.gardensbythebay.com.sg
Peekaboo!, Rainbow Centre
9 to 30 March (Saturdays only)
Organised by Superhero Me, a ground-up inclusive arts movement, Peekaboo! Showcases the talents of Rainbow Centre students who worked with six local artists and 20 arts facilitators to create six original artworks. These pieces explore the themes of identity and their place in the world through drama, dance, visual art, and art and technology. Head down on a Saturday and experience the creativity of children with special needs, take part in inclusive art camps and workshops and go on a free guided tour.
Rainbow Centre at Margaret Drive, 501 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149306; www.superherome.sg/peekaboo
Wild Rumpus, The Artground
Until 5 May
Who’s ready to go on a Wild Rumpus? Artist Adeline Loo has created an imaginary world filled with creatures large and small of all shapes, sizes and texture. Little ones can hang out with the colourful creatures, give them a hug and a squeeze, and get busy exploring the extraordinary in this fun-packed exhibit for kids. Time to make some new friends!
The Artground, Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, Block J #01-40, Singapore 439053; theartground.com.sg
The Vanishing, or Time Goes Away, The Substation
16 March to 7 April
In the final chapter of The Substation’s exhibition Cities change. People die. Everything you know goes away., this exhibition will showcase an interactive playground with accompanying workshops, performances, storytelling sessions, art installations, interactive art and even a futuristic dining experience. Suitable for kids aged six and up.
The Substations, 45 Armenian St, Singapore 179936; www.substation.org
Southeast Asia in the World, Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum is opening three brand new permanent galleries on Christian Art, Islamic Art and Ancestors and Rituals to highlight the importance of Southeast Asia in the World. The exhibits focus on art that demonstrates an exchange of ideas and cultural interactions within Southeast Asia and between Asia and Europe. Grab one of the colourful activity booklets (complete with stickers and postcards) and try out the new museum trails to discover how faith and belief have spread across Asia through religious art.
Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555; www.acm.org.sg
Minimalism: Space. Light. Object., National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum
Until 14 April
This exhibition (also pictured top) might be little high-brow for the kiddos, but anyone can appreciate pretty colours and funny shapes. Held by National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with ArtScience Museum, this exhibit has a focus on Minimalism, the influential art movement that began post WWII and is the reason we have just enough space for all those toys in the house. Featuring renowned artists like Chinese activist-artist Ai Weiwei and the late Donald Judd, journey through galleries of over 100 exhibits including immersive audio-visual installations like a room that is entirely yellow and a maze of colours.
National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum; www.nationalgallery.sg
Between the Lines – The Chinese Cartoon Revolution, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
Until 7 July
Think comics were always all about superheroes? Check out the brand new exhibit at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall for a look into the past when cartoons and comics emerged in Singapore in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Featuring witty satirical sketches from political cartoonists and art by local artist Ah Guo, the exhibit will outline the social and political landscape in China and Singapore and kids can discover the importance of the visual medium for communicating messages.
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Rd, Singapore 327874; www.sysnmh.org.sg
Chetti Melaka of the Straits: Rediscovering Peranakan Indian Communities, Indian Heritage Centre
Until 5 May
Within Singapore’s cultural melting pot are the Chetti Melaka, or Peranakan Indians. The Chetti Melaka have a unique culture blended with Indian, Malay and Chinese influences: pretty cool, huh? In this culture-rich community co-created exhibition, bring the fam to learn about the language, traditional outfits, cuisine and practices of the Chetti Melaka.
Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209924; www.indianheritage.org.sg
Undangan ke Baitullah: Pilgrims’ Stories from the Malay World to Mākkah, Malay Heritage Centre
Until 23 June
This exhibition delves into the significance of Kampong Glam as an important port town where Muslims from all over the Malay Archipelago would congregate to prepare for the onward steamship passage to Mākkah in the late 19th century and into the early 1970s. Grab a passport and stamp your way through a fascinating exhibit of over 160 artefacts which chart the journey of pilgrims who have crossed countries to Mecca, and uncover the history behind this millennia-long tradition through recordings, art and personal accounts by the pilgrims themselves.
Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501; www.malayheritage.org.sg
In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology, National Museum of Singapore
Until 31 March
Any kiddo who loves the handy little Instax cam will love this exhibit of Polaroid photography. Ditch the apps and dive into the history of Polaroid photography through Polaroid artworks, artefacts and vintage memorabilia, and grab a few artistic inspirations for yourself.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178897; www.nationalmuseum.sg
The Inventions of Ancient Greece: Origins of Our Modern Technology, Science Centre Singapore
Until 24 March
This travelling exhibit has landed on the shores of Singapore to bring us the rich history of ancient Greek inventions. Expect some cheeky, wacky and all-round ingenious inventions by the ancient Greeks like a whistling alarm clock, the world’s first vending machine and a cinema. Little tinkerers and makers will love checking out the brand new Ancient Inventions Science Show which will demonstrate and bring the inventions to life.
Science Centre Singapore, 15 Science Centre Rd, Singapore 609081; www.science.edu.sg
Amek Gambar: Peranakans and Photography, Peranakan Museum
Until 24 March
Here’s a cool history lesson for the kids, and great for anyone curious about the early days of Singapore. This exhibition at the Peranakan Museum will showcase some of the rarest and earliest images of Peranakans in history and covers more than a century and half of photography.
Amek Gambar: Peranakans and Photography, Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian St, Singapore 179941; www.peranakanmuseum.org.sg
Going Play-ces: A Wanderful Exploration of New Lands!, Playeum, Children’s Centre for Creativity
Until 29 April
Don’t think it’s possible to see the world in one room? Think again! Playeum’s new interactive exhibit will have toddlers and kids up to around 12 years exploring oceans, playing with light, whizzing through space, crawling through jungles, building cities and even imagining the future. They’ll stretch their imagination and creativity to the limits and find new ways to engage with their surroundings and how science and environmental conservation play a part in everyday life. Check out our review on all the awesome before heading over!
Playeum, 47 Malan Road, #01-21/22/23, Singapore 109444; www.playeum.com
Wandering in Black and White, Art Playscape, National Gallery Singapore
We’ve already checked out the woods and enchanted forests over at Art Playscape, and now homegrown artist, Tang Ling Nah, has introduced cool new works at the Keppel Centre for Art Education at National Gallery Singapore. Wandering in Black and White will take kids on a journey through fantastical cities where they’ll be able to explore and even build their own cities, and discover the relationship between light, object and space. Perfect for little kids with big imaginations.
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew’s Road; www.nationalgallery.sg
Phobia, The Science of Fear, Science Centre Singapore
Most of us have a phobia (spiders, yuck!) and this addition to Science Centre Singapore’s is a permanent exhibit exploring fear from a historical, cultural and psychological perspective. Kids will be taken on a journey through the different types of fears, from the fear of being buried alive to monsters under the bed and even every student’s worst fear – exams! Better prep the kiddos for some hair-raising moments.
Singapore Science Centre, 15 Science Centre Road, Singapore 609081; www.science.edu.sg/exhibitions/Pages/Phobia2.aspx
Digital Life Canvas, Marina Bay Sands, The Shoppes
We may have lost (for now) one of the few ice skating rinks we have in Singapore, but we’ll let that go because its replacement is really pretty awesome! Where there was once fake ice, there is now an amazing light sculpture and LED floor, all part of Digital Life Canvas, a collaboration with teamLab. Expect some pretty impressive light imagery – birds flying through the light sculpture while fish dart about beneath your feet, and flowers blooming underfoot are all part of the fun.
Marina Bay Sands, The Shoppes, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956, p. 6688 8888; www.marinabaysands.com
The Maritime Experiential Museum
The Maritime Experiential Museum has reopened, having undergone a massive overhaul and complete reconceptualisation. Featuring all new exhibits that integrate technology and interactive exhibits, older kids will love admiring the ships, encountering pirates, and experiencing a typhoon in all its 4D multi-sensory sound and fury. We especially liked the little surprise ending after the typhoon!
8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore 098269, www.rwsentosa.com
Omni-Theatre — SE Asia’s First 8K 3D Digital Dome Theatre
Asia’s first ever 8K 3D Digital Dome is screening five fantastic shows in a totally immersive experience across a 23m seamless screen: a learning journey like no other! Be mesmerised by the riveting beauty of the Northern Lights, blast off into space and learn about our galaxy during a live planetarium show. All without leaving Singapore!
Singapore Science Centre, 15 Science Centre Road, Singapore 609081, www.science.edu.sg
Singapore City Gallery, Urban Redevelopment Authority
If you’ve ever wished for the ability to see into the future then you’re in luck! Head over to the Singapore City Gallery exhibit, where you’ll find the fascinating story of Singapore’s massive urban renewal and also get a look at the future plans for our small, but mighty city. Kids will love getting a bird’s eye view of large-scale architectural models where they will keep busy trying to find their home on the island-wide model! Our personal highlights? Interacting with the old and new streetscapes while discovering the history behind some of Singapore’s heritage gems at the ‘A Brush With History’ exhibit, and being wowed by the interactive ‘A Day in Singapore’ dawn to dusk 270-degree panorama scenes. Family winner for sure. The Singapore City Gallery is undergoing a temporary revamp but temporary exhibitions and the Central Area model on level 2 is still available to view.
The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069118; www.ura.gov.sg
Malay Heritage Centre
Head over to Istana Kampong Gelam (aka the Malay Heritage Centre), the former home of the Sultanate of Singapore, for a cool history lesson and to check out the permanent exhibits showcasing the colourful history and culture of the Malay community in Singapore. There are six galleries spread over two levels, so plenty to keep everyone busy with!
Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate Singapore 198501; www.malayheritage.org.sg
The Glass Rotunda: Story of the Forest and Singapore, Very Old Tree, National Museum of Singapore
Story of the Forest has arrived at the National Museum of Singapore in its full larger-than-life interactive glory, and our kids can’t get enough of it! The installation mimics the sights and sounds of Southeast Asia’s lush tropical rainforests by transforming 69 drawings (from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings collections) to life in a virtual experience that will blow the whole family away. Get up close and personal with awesome flora and fauna: watch out for our favourite, the Malayan Tapir! Once you’re done with interactive heaven, do check out Singapore, Very Old Tree: a phenomenal photography exhibition by renowned local artist, Robert Zhao. The 17-piece collection explores the nation’s identity as a ‘Garden City’ by shining the spotlight on some of the most iconic trees across the island.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, p. 6332 3659; www.nationalmuseum.sg
Into the Wild: An Immersive Virtual Adventure, ArtScience Museum
Take your little wild things to the super cool Into the Wild exhibit over at ArtScience Museum, where virtual reality meets a lush virtual rainforest exploration adventure. At this free exhibit, kids will use a specially-created smartphone device to transport them from Singapore to Sumatra at the touch of a button. Visitors of all ages will adore the mesmerising virtual world of lush jungles and endangered animals (look out for the cute pangolin!). We’re absolutely on board with the environmental awareness lessons this amazing exhibition brings to our little explorers as well.
ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974; www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html
Butterflies Up-Close, Science Centre Singapore
Hands up if your kids made you read one of the all-time favourite classics, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a gazillion times as part of the bedtime routine? Little ones LOVE following the story of that greedy little critter all the way through to its transformation into the prettiest butterfly in the garden. Now they can meet a small army of caterpillars and butterflies (more than 500 at the last count) that have crawled and fluttered their way over to the Science Centre’s colourful, interactive display: Butterflies Up-Close.
Science Centre Singapore, 15 Science Centre Road, Singapore 609081; www.science.edu.sg/exhibitions/Pages/ButterfliesUp-Close.aspx
Are your kids big fans of football stars and heart throb boy bands? Take them on a trip to celebville at Madame Tussauds, where they can share the stage with One Direction, test their sporting skills against heroes like David Beckham or shake hands with the world’s biggest political leaders. For a nice breather after an afternoon of fawning over wax versions of your idols, take a boat ride through an enchanted Singapore forest where you’ll be treated to mini Singapore in its all swanky splendour.
Madam Tussauds, Sentosa, 40 Imbiah Road, Singapore 099700; www.madametussauds.com/Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
The two-storey gallery is the place to go if you’re keen to learn more about the Earth’s history and diversity, plus get up close and personal with iconic specimens of Singapore’s geology and ecosystem. From a slice of the rare (and now locally extinct) Changi tree, to the Singapore sperm whale, examine the weird and wonderful from our very own shores. Did we mention there’s dinosaur fossils?
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, 2 Conservatory Drive, Singapore 117377; www.lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg
Amazon Flooded Forest, River Safari
Travel to the Amazon, the second longest river in the world, at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibits. This enormous freshwater aquarium transports you straight into the flooded waters of the river and offers different immersive experiences thanks to its multi-levels of viewing. We’d also suggest ending the day with a boat ride down the Amazon River Quest for an exciting, scenic end to the day.
River Safari, 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826; www.riversafari.com.sg/wild-amazonia/amazon-flooded-forest.html
Trick Eye Museum
For an afternoon of giggles and optical illusions, head to the Trick Eye Museum. This place is all about the art of turning two-dimensional paintings into three-dimensional scenes – just watch how the surfaces of the museum walls, floors and ceilings come alive! Arm yourself with a camera, get creative with your poses and go nuts creating the wackiest visual narratives at the various themed galleries. We’ve taken too many hilarious photos here to count.
Trick Eye Museum, 26 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore 098138; www.trickeye.com/singapore
Top image: Haw Par Villa by Choo Yut Shing via Flickr
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