8 Aug 2020 - 31 Aug 2020

Whole day

Getting Here

Diversity, multiculturalism, and religious harmony are core to the Singaporean identity. Celebrate the Nation’s 55thbirthday with objects from the National Collection by exploring the galleries of the Asian Civilisations Museum. 



  1. FIND the object based on the maps provided.
  2. LOOK closely at the objects using the guiding questions. 
  3. READ the object captions in the gallery for details. 


Tour duration: Approximately 45-minutes  


Suggested route: Lobby — Level 2 Ancient Religions — Islamic Art — Ancestors and Rituals — Scholars — Level 3 Jewellery  — Level 1 Singapore Archaeology


  • Level 2 – Ancient Religions

    From the lobby, take the stairs or the lift to Level 2. Refer to the map here to locate the objects on Level 2.

    NDPweb - map level 2

    Enter the Ancient Religions Gallery that traces the development of Buddhist and Hindu art throughout Asia.  


    Look out for the bronze statue of the elephant-headed god, Ganesha. Examine it closely and consider the questions below. Move on to other remarkable bronze temple sculptures in this gallery from the Chola dynasty and compare styles.

    1996-00755 Ganesha copy 
    Standing Ganesha
    Southern India, 18th century

    - Can you identify the objects Ganesha carries in each of his arms? 

    - What do you think is the purpose of the hole at the base? 

    - Why do you think Ganesha is worshipped at the start of new undertakings? 

    Next, make your way to the Islamic Art Gallery, located on the left side of the same floor. This gallery presents works of religious art produced by and for the Islamic faithful across Asia. 

  • Level 2 – Islamic Art

    Locate the prayer chart at the showcase with the other objects that survey space, time and matter. Take this chance to examine other instruments that were used to read time. 

     1995-00133 Prayer Chart copy
    Prayer chart
    Singapore, mid-20th century
    Wood, paint, metal, chalk
    Gift of Haji Mohd Amin bin Abdul Wahab, Singapore 

    - Do you spot the numerals “1995” on the chart? What do you think they signify?  

    - Why do you think there are six clocks on the chart? 

    - Do you think charts like this are still used? 

    Now turn around and look for a painting of a bird calligram. It is situated adjacent to a row of building structures and markers that feature carved Islamic calligraphy. 

     1996-01738 (002)
    Bird calligram
    Yusuf Chen Jinhui
    China, 1996
    Ink on paper
    Gift of Yusuf Chen Jinhui

    Admire the creativity and finesse of the calligrapher with this bird calligram. 


    - On which parts of the bird do you see the Arabic letters?

    - What do you think is special about the seal of this calligram? 

    - Why do you think the Arabic phrase “basmala” is depicted in the shape of a bird?   

    If you have time, do watch a video demonstration of Islamic calligraphyjust behind you. 

    As you exit the Islamic Gallery, turn left into the 
    Ancestors & Rituals Gallery. This gallery focuses mainly on the traditional societies and communities in Southeast Asia. 

  • Level 2 – Ancestors & Rituals

    Locate the ceremonial shoulder cloth in a large showcase displaying textiles and other objects.

     T-0768 Ceremonial Shoulder Cloth copy
    Ceremonial shoulder cloth
    Sumatra, early 20th century 
    Silk, natural dyes, metallic thread

    Marvel at the intricacy of this shoulder cloth, which was produced using an ancient technique called ikat


    - How many different coloured threads can you find on this cloth? 

    - When do you think this cloth would have been used? 

    - What do you think is the significance behind the colours and motifs used on this shoulder cloth?  

    From this large showcase, turn left and head towards the Scholars Gallery. For centuries, the scholar represented an ideal in Chinese culture. 

  • Level 2 – Scholars

    Find the couplet written by Dr. Tan Tsze Chor, located just behind the Scholar’s Studio. 

     2002-00766 TTC Poem
    Couplet in combined regular, running, and cursive scripts. 
    Tan Tsze Chor
    Singapore, 1979
    Chinese ink and colour on paper
    From the Xiang Xue Zhuang Collection in memory of Dr. Tan Tsze Chor

    Be inspired by the innovative style of this calligraphy, written by Dr. Tan Tsze Chor, a Singaporean calligrapher and collector, also known as the “pepper king”. He was a successful businessman who traded in pepper. 


    Contemplate the patriotic message written and the questions below. 


    - Can you identify the four treasures of the study that Dr Tan used to create this? 

    - Where do you think Dr. Tan displayed this piece of work? 

    - What could have inspired Dr. Tan to pen this couplet (a pair of successive lines of verse, that is usually rhyming and of the same length) in this unique style? 

    Besides this work by Dr. Tan, look out for an ink painting by Qian Du and Qi Baishi seals, all from the Xiang Xue Zhuang Collection. The collection represents the first comprehensive collection of Chinese art in Singapore. 

    Exit the Scholars Gallery and go up the Central Staircase to Level 3. Make your way to the Jewellery Gallery on the left. In this gallery, you'll get to explore many fascinating styles of adornment.

    NDPweb - map level 3

  • Level 3 – Jewellery
     GL-0022 Kerongsang copy
    Set of blouse fasteners (kerongsang)
    Straits Settlements, late 19th or early 20th century. 
    Gold, diamond
    National Museum of Singapore

    Behold the beauty of this dazzling set of kerongsang used to close the front of a blouse or tunic in the absence of buttons. 


    - What shapes can you identify in this set? 

    - How heavy do you think the kerongsang are? 

    - Why do you think the kerongsang was popular and commonly worn across Southeast Asia? 

    Look at the photo montage to your right to see how the kerongsang are worn by different communities.

    After seeing all the different precious jewellery from Southeast Asia, head back to the Central Staircase, and go down to Level 1. 

    NDPweb - map level 1

  • Level 1 – Singapore Archaeology

    Walk along the long corridor all the way to the end, until you enter the Singapore Archaeology section just beside the Museum Shop. Learn about Temasek, Singapore’s old name, and this bustling port of the 14th century.

    Materials excavated from the 1998 excavation at Empress Place 
    Ceramics, coins: China, 11th to 15th century  
    Ceramics, bone, seashells: Southeast Asia and Singapore, 14th or 15th century  

    These shards, bits and pieces that you see in the gallery hint of the trading history of Singapore and the development of the historical landmark – the Singapore River. Think of the questions below and take a stroll along the Singapore River after your visit at the ACM. 


    - What items can you identify from the different showcases?

    - How do you think they were used and traded? 

    - How has the Singapore River evolved over the years? 

    You've reached the end of the tour!

    If you have time, do explore the connected Tang Shipwreck gallery on the same floor or discover the rest of the museum.


We hope you had fun learning about Singapore’s heritage and history through the objects in our galleries. Happy National Day from ACM!


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