Many world museums with Asian exhibitions usually feature boring pottery & Chinese tea cups, I’m pretty sure the kids want to see precious gold, jewels, swords & statues of gods & super beings, all the stuff that captures the imagination. The Asian Civilisation Museum is full of this stuff with a special emphasis on the SE Asian region & less about China & its teacups, making this museum unique with its specific collection, mostly donated from wealthy benefactors who either stole them or purchased them so cheaply from locals it is almost like stealing.
Some of the more impressive artefacts are a 2500 year old Dong Son bronze drum from Northern Vietnam, in almost perfect condition, it is intricately detailed created by a mysterious people who invented Bronze technology independently from Europeans. The Jewellery section has exotic pieces that could easily be worn to any Hollywood party today. Big kids might like the strange swords on display with jewel encrusted scabbards & handles typical of the sultans & Princes of Java. Another fascinating artefact is a genuine Islamic astrolabe, a contraption that guided traders thousands of kilometres across deserts & mountains from West Asia to the East via the stars, a beautiful piece of ancient technology accompanied by an interactive video to explain its workings. The museum has loads of statues of different religions & gods from around the SE Asian region making it a repository of religious icons, surely this place would make many suicide-bombers nervous, leave your vests at home.
One of the best features of the museum is the grand colonial building it occupies. Formerly the administrative heart of Singapore, within its tall walls it exudes an old world charm & atmosphere of the colony’s past grandeur from the polished floorboards to the grand columns, fitting for a place that displays the glorious past of some of the regions finest ancient artwork for future generations.
Entry for adults is $8, the museum also accepts foreign university cards for student concessions at half price. Friday 5 – 7pm is half price on all tickets. Its less than 5mins walk to the Raffles Place MRT station, just behind the Victoria Concert Hall bus stand on Fullerton road & across the bridge from the 5-star Fullerton hotel. There are free daily guided tours at different times each day. The daily 7pm close time is perfect as the museum is surrounded by the Boat Quay restaurant precinct.
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