With 800 objects over nine galleries on three floors, there's a lot to explore. Here's all the details on how to plan your visit with the family…
First up, what is Peranakan culture all about?
We spoke to Séverine from KiddoTrip for the lowdown on Peranakan culture: “Peranakans are children locally born from a mixed marriage between a local and a foreigner. Historally, most were Chinese Peranakan. When Chinese traders came to the region, they married Malay women who came from Malaysia or Indonesia and their children were raised with a mix of Chinese and Malay cultures and were called Peranakans. But not all Peranakans are of Chinese ancestry; there is a small but significant community of Peranakan Indians, too”.
What can you expect at the revamped Peranakan Museum?
It’s taken four years to complete this refurb, so you know you’re in for a treat. There are nine galleries spanning three floors with over 800 objects to check out, ranging from newly acquired or generously donated objects to well-loved artefacts and set pieces. The museum explores the Peranakan identity through universal themes of “Origins”, “Home”, and “Style”.
Origins is on level one of the gallery and introduces visitors to the origins of the Peranakan communities. You can expect a history lesson here with hand-coloured photographs, photo walls, and video interviews to check out.
On the second floor, you can get up close with the objects from family and community Peranakan life. You can expect furniture, portraits, furnishings and more! The displays focus on historic houses and architecture, many of which have since been demolished and are survived by the objects on view. We think older kids will love the colours and intricate details of the items on display. Perhaps keep a close eye if bringing little ones, though – for the most part, displays are protected, but you only need an eager toddler to challenge that!
The best until last? In our opinion – YES! We love the Style gallery and think the kids will too. Think decorative textiles and fashion dedicated to Peranakan style. You can see how fashion has evolved, and there are even contemporary pieces, like the beautiful beaded slippers worn by lead actress Jeanette Aw in the blockbuster drama series, The Little Nyonya (2008).
What’s in it for the kids?
Although it might not be quite as kid-focused as the likes of the Children’s Museum or ArtScience Museum, there’s still enough to keep the kiddos occupied. Make sure you pick up the Peranakan trail map filled with fun activities to complete – explore the museum to spot the answers as you go. There’s also a dedicated kids’ area (with an incredible wall – see above!) if the little ones want to take a seat and colour their Peranakan activity book.
Why the Peranakan Museum should be on your list…
We asked Séverine why she thinks the Peranakan Museum is a good option for a family day out. Here’s what she had to say:
“The Peranakan Museum is a unique and fascinating place where you’ll get to see beautiful and intricate Peranakan artefacts, such as traditional clothing, jewellery, and household items. These items tell the story of the Peranakan people and their way of life, and they give kids a glimpse into the fascinating world of this unique culture. One of the things I love about Peranakan culture is that you get to discover a fusion culture that is very unique. Also, as the Peranakan culture loved colours, the artefacts will really appeal to the kids. The museum is also a great opportunity to talk to kids about different cultures and races. Developing cultural empathy can help children to understand why people act and think differently and promotes tolerance and open-mindedness”.
Other happenings at the Peranakan Museum
Alongside the incredible permanent galleries, the Peranakan Museum also has pop-up events and activities, with one happening for the opening weekend (17-19 February). The museum is inviting everyone to celebrate its reopening at a special edition of Armenian Street Party: Peranakan Museum Reopens! There will be outdoor performances, workshops, food, and beverages – and free admission to the museum! There are plenty of interactive activities and workshops for kids to participate in, too.
Other ways to discover Peranakan culture with your children in Singapore
We asked Séverine to give us ideas of other ways we could explore Peranakan culture with the kids in Singapore. Here are her top tips:
1. Take a tour!
Want to explore more about Peranakan culture? Check out this dedicated Joo Chiat guide – the area has heaps of Peranakan history to uncover. Or how about undertaking a family tour? KiddoTrip offers self-guided audio tours that are accompanied by fun activity books for the kids, which include a scavenger hunt, spot the difference, and more! The tours are suitable for kids aged four to ten years old, and the Joo Chiat tour is a great option to find out more about Peranakan history and culture.
2. Eat out with the family at a Peranakan restaurant
Or how about checking out a Peranakan restaurant? Recommendations include Guan Hoe Soon (#01-01, 200 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427471) and True Blue (47/49 Armenian St, Singapore 179937). Psst, be careful; the Peranakan food can be spicy, so always ask before ordering. Heading out without the kids? Book a table at Candlenut for the ultimate treat of contemporary Peranakan cuisine.
3. Read a book on Peranakan culture
We love picking a book for bedtime that also helps our little ones learn a new thing or two, so how about a bedtime story that’s all about Peranakan culture? Our little ones are big fans of this Peranakan take on modern nursery rhymes.
Enjoy exploring all things Peranakan!
More about Séverine
Séverine is a French mum of two lively boys travelling the world with them and always looking for fun and educative experiences. She started KiddoTrip to help parents explore a city with their young children.