Museums to visit in Singapore: When Fashion Meets Arts

The city of Singapore is full of places to discover and visit. There is always something to do, according to your mood of the day: whether you want to learn more about the country, its culture, or you simply want a moment for yourself, away from the crowd to recharge. This summer, I had the chance to have some free time to go to the museum.

Why You Need to Stop & See Singapore: a 1-, 2- or 3-Day Guide | Travelzoo

Visiting a museum always enriches you and opens your mind. Here are 2 museums and galleries that inspired me.

The Asian Civilisation Museum, a history lesson about Asian heritage.

Before talking about the different exhibitions, it is interessant to know that ACM offers  free entry for ESSEC students. Simply present your card at the counter to redeem your ticket and enjoy the visit! There are also some free guided tours, held by volunteers. This 3-storey museum opened in April 1997. The first one is dedicated to the trade and maritime silk routes, and the second to faith and belief. 

The most interesting part is the third storey, dedicated to decorative art. The first room is dedicated to jewelry. You can admire Southeast Asian pieces, made from different materials, forms and styles. The room is very dark, only the jewelry is enlightened, forcing the visitor to get closer to the pieces in order to admire every single detail of them. 

An inside look at the Asian Civilisations Museum's new textile and  jewellery galleries - Home & Decor Singapore
An inside look at the Asian Civilisations Museum's new textile and jewellery  galleries - Home & Decor Singapore

It is very interesting to see the jewelry evolving through the periods and countries, from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. Most of the pieces are made of gold, such as necklaces or headdresses.

The third storey also offers a room dedicated to fashion and textiles. The shoes displayed are a symbol of evolution of the Chinese country. We can see very colourful tiny shoes embroidered with flowers and animals, that reflect the food binding time. Having small feet was considered as something beautiful and erotic, enabling women to walk with elegance and grace. This practice has only been banned after the establishment of the Chinese Republic, in 1912.

An inside look at the Asian Civilisations Museum's new textile and  jewellery galleries - Home & Decor Singapore

Some clothes are also displayed, like a wonderful and colorful Ceremonial robe made of different material: Indian cotton, Chinese silk and wood. This art piece from Sumatra, Indonesia is an illustration of the trading patterns of the 18th Century. 

Awards: The Asian Civilisations Museum recognized for fashion exhibition  highlighting Chinese art and couture - adobo Magazine Online

Another very interesting artefact is the 1930s French-inspired qipao. Made from silk and velvet and recovered with flower pattern, this piece catches the attention. 

Asian Civilisations Museum Opens New Fashion And Jewellery Galleries

The National Gallery of Singapore

The National Gallery and its 6 levels will surprise you from the first to the last art piece. It is a great place if you aspire for calmness and reflection. The architecture of the building itself is an art piece.

National Gallery: Singapore Art Gallery - Visit Singapore Official Site

The most impressing canvas is obviously the work of Raden Saleh, titled “Boschbrand”, Forest Fire. The dimensions are huge: 300 x 396 cm. As you get closer, you can admire the details and see the hidden animals such as the deer confused in flames and smoke. 

Boschbrand (Forest Fire), Raden Saleh, Indonesia, 1849, oil on canvas

The artwork from Sanpitak, titled “Smiling body”, is one of the most symbolic of the museum. It represents a woman’s body, with her breast in form of a seed, to remind of the nurturing function of this body part, too often sexualised in our modern societies. 

The floor 5 offers an impressive view of the city center, with the buildings and the sky mirrored on the reflecting pool. There is also the Ng Teng Fong roof garden gallery, with beautiful flowers and plants.

The Architecture of National Gallery Singapore

When you visit the gallery, let yourself be carried away by the different art pieces that will inspire you, bring you to a reflection or make you learn about the history of Southeast Asia. As you cross from the former Supreme Court to the City Hall – which are the two buildings reunited to form the museum – you can take time to avail the silence and the beauty of the building’s architecture. 

Art pieces from museums are very enriching and inspiring. It teaches us about the previous fashion trends through clothing and jewelry, to the different artistic movements.

By Marie Helle

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