The Malay Heritage Centre today is once the prominent Istana Kampong Glam, the former Malay Palace in Singapore. It’s a property of over a centuries old, and resided by generations of Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor’s family from the 1800s to 1900s.
The residents have since resettled, and the Istana Kampong Glam was refurbished in 2004 as part of the development of the Malay Heritage Centre. Today, this gorgeous building has opened its door to the public!
But what can you find in this heritage building?We visited the Heritage Centre on its grand re-opening on 1st September 2012, which was also graced by our Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. If this is going to be your first visit to Kampong Glam, and probably the Heritage Centre, read this review to find out if it’s worth your visit!
An Experiential Cultural Tour
The Malay Heritage Centre is a really gorgeous building, painted in yellow, and you will never fail to notice it when you’re at Kampong Glam. Be ready to be awed by its impressive design and construction.
Once you stepped into its exhibition building, you will be brought on a journey of discovery of Malay history, culture, and community in Singapore.
The whole exhibition is well presented in halls and rooms, where the owners used to reside in.
The gallery showcases the stories of prominent Malay persons in Singapore, and the massive contribution they made to the development of the country in the early days.
As a student, I studied about them through textbooks, but I get to know so much more from the exhibits, and the narration by the heritage guides there.
There are also rare exhibits displayed, such as the rifle used by Malay Regiment soldiers in World War II, and the Straits Settlement coins used in the early days of Singapore.
Now, look at this image. The man in it is probably the most prominent Malay person in Singapore.
If you don’t recognize him here, then you may want to take out a Singapore dollar note (any denominations) from your wallet.
Recognize him now?
I’m sure you’ll love to have many copies of his images in your wallet!
He is Yusof Bin Ishak, the first President of Singapore, serving from 1965, the year Singapore gained independence, until his death in 1970.
Find out more about him and his contributions to Singapore at the Malay Heritage Centre!
There are also many exhibits that arouse our curiosity, and thankfully for the guides, we are able to get our curiosity fulfilled. One of the exhibits that interested us is this object on the right.
Make a guess. What is it used for?
We thought it’s a bench for sitting down, or a stool for you to step on. But hey, it’s a coconut shaver! To use it, you have to sit down, and place the coconut at the sharp knife at the tip, and you start shaving!
I know I know… there are better ways to shave coconuts today. But hey, now you know how coconuts are shaved in the past, and were used to make so many delicious Malay delicacies!
There are many more items in the Malay community exhibited there. Identify them if you can, or you can ask the friendly guides to explain to you the uses for each item. You’ll be more culturally intelligent after that!
If you think our cultural discovery is just about walking through the exhibits and study Malay culture, then I can do that at home with Wikipedia. But No!
We were treated to a Malay cultural performance too!
The musicians performed really well, and brought life to the whole Heritage Centre. All the visitors just flooded in to the room to enjoy their music. The performance consists of a few Malay instruments and some classical ones.
Overall, the fusion of music is beautiful.
The tour concluded with a short walk around the tranquil vicinity, and definitely not forgetting a shot with the iconic building. It’s truly anenriching experience.
How to get there?
You can reach the Heritage Centre with a short 10-minute walk from the nearest MRT station: Bugis.
It is also located right beside the grand Sultan Mosque.
For specific directions to the Malay Heritage Centre from where you’re at,click here!
Malay Heritage Centre Museum
Monday – Closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00am to 6:00pm
*Last admission 5.30pm
Malay Heritage Centre Compound
Monday – Closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Friday to Saturday: 8:00am to 10:00pm
Seniors (60 years and above) : $3
Thursday to Sunday: 12pm to 3:00pm
Yay or Nay?
Why you might love Malay Heritage Centre:
- A small but comprehensive museum to learn about the Malay culture and community in Singapore
- A journey of discovery that brings you back to the origins of Singapore
- Getting to know the famous Malay persons who contributed to Singapore’s early development. Do you know we have a few MRT stations named after them?
- The really friendly and approachable guides. Feel free to approach them to get your queries answered!
- Oh please… how can one resist the grand design and construction of the Heritage Centre?
Why you might not love Malay Heritage Centre:
- Missing: The delicious Malay delicacies!
Fret not, there’s many restaurants around where you can get them!
- You’re not a museum type of person
What Say You?
Even though I have lived in Singapore for years, and have many Malay friends, I realized there are many things I still don’t understand about the Malay culture and community.
This trip to the Heritage Centre has opened my eyes to deeper insights about the Malay community, and helped me become more interested of understanding their culture!
How about you?
Share with us your trip to the Malay Heritage Centre below!
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