Saturday, August 10, 2013

Asian Civilisations Museum

The Asian Civilisations Museum is possibly the best museum in Singapore (and probably the one I'd recommend to visit if you could only pick one, at least if you like art museums). Rather than being focused on just one country, its collections showcase art from all the different cultural regions of Asia, including relatively unknown groups like the Dayaks and Chettiar.
Of course they have more well-known, typically "Southeast Asian" art too
There is also a section focused on the history of the Singapore River (which flows right outside the museum) for more local flavor.
The river and the shophouses of Boat Quay, highrises in the background
R likes walking along the promenade (which goes all the way to the ocean)
The museum is housed in a lovely old building (built by convicts, like much of historic Singapore) and enjoys a very scenic location. It also has a nice restaurant where you can enjoy Western food (french fries for R!) or Asian cuisine (the spring rolls are really good) while watching the river.
R at the restaurant, waiting for her fries
One of the things I enjoy about the museum is their frequent and well-done special exhibitions (which always cover topics/cultures I didn't know about previously). Last time we visited the exhibit highlighted the Salak Yom festival in Thailand, during which "trees of life" are created using local or reused materials, then presented to Buddhist monasteries to gain merit. It's kind of like extremely elaborate origami, except that things like condom wrappers or banana leaves are used instead of paper. Totally fascinating!
One of the trees, complete with paper umbrellas and "food" offerings
The dragon's head is made out of foil
R likes the museum for the various child-friendly activities, including making your own Salak Yom-inspired decoration. They also have little house-like installations (in, for example, Islamic style) where kids can get some hands-on experience with different kinds of architecture. Pretty cool!

We haven't been in a little while, so I think it's about time for another visit!

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