Heritage X Identity


Our expressions of heritage are a powerful reflection of both our individual and collective identities, illuminating the rich diversity of our communities. Through the preservation of our material culture, historic sites, and intangible cultural heritage, we can weave a strong social fabric that connects us all.

Cultivating and strengthening our national identity is a core and longstanding priority of NHB. Even as we embark on the new chapter of heritage development in Singapore, we remain committed to telling captivating stories that resonate with all Singaporeans and strengthening our sense of national pride. In Our SG Heritage Plan 2.0, we hope to encourage a more layered understanding of the Singaporean identity and our connection to the region and the world. We will also work to ensure that the experiences of Singaporeans are represented and celebrated, in our vision to create a truly inclusive space for all. Additionally, we will work hard at safeguarding our archaeological treasures for future generations to enjoy.

As we continue to grow and evolve as a nation, NHB remains dedicated to building a brighter future for Singapore and all its people. Together, the strategies and initiatives under Heritage x Identity will strengthen our shared identity as Singaporeans and contribute to a more resilient and united multicultural society.

Conserving Singapore's Maritime Heritage


Singapore’s cultural diversity is rooted in its strategic location at the heart of historic maritime trade routes. Throughout the centuries, the movement of people, goods, and ideas has shaped our nation's identity, making us the global citizens we are today. We believe that by exploring our maritime roots, we can better understand the forces behind our national identity, and our relationships with our neighbours in the region.

Our passion for uncovering our maritime heritage was ignited with the recovery of the first two historic shipwrecks in Singapore waters – the mid-14th century Temasek Wreck and the 1796 Shah Muncher. Between 2016 and 2021, objects of archaeological interest have been recovered from these sites, including Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain and numerous ceramic ware. These staggering discoveries will deepen our understanding of Singapore’s pre-colonial maritime history and give us insights into the lives of those who came before us. With the support of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, we will continue to conduct post-excavation works on these valuable artefacts.

As we move forward, we will increase our capacity and capabilities in maritime conservation and provide more opportunities for the public to appreciate and enjoy the rich stories of Singapore's maritime past.

Developing a Design Collection


Singapore’s National Collection is a treasure trove of over 250,000 artefacts and objects that tell the story of our past and present. To keep the collection reflective of the nation's story, we take pride in preserving and updating it.

Recently, we have been highlighting the cultural significance of design through exhibitions and programmes in our museums. Design is a powerful tool for inspiration and innovation that can shape our society positively.

With this in mind, NHB, together with the Singapore Art Museum, Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Library Board, and DesignSingapore, are developing a design collection. The collection will cover a range of design disciplines and focus on contemporary Singaporean designers and architects. We will also reach out to local collectors of design objects and collect works from the Southeast Asian and Asian regions.

By creating a design collection, we hope to bolster the National Collection's representation of contemporary objects and creative expression, while fostering collaborations with the design community and industry. We also hope that collection will inspire young practitioners to experiment with heritage-inspired creations.

Expanding Singapore’s Representation on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


In 2020, the successful inscription of Hawker Culture in Singapore to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (ICH) was a proud and unifying moment for Singapore. This experience rallied Singaporeans together to discuss and reflect on the elements that shape our national identity. In fact, our passion and love for our multicultural food heritage played a significant role in UNESCO's decision.

Building on this success, NHB is now identifying new ICH elements for Singapore’s future nominations to the UNESCO Representative List of ICH. Our quest to identify new elements is not just about gaining global recognition, but also about preserving and celebrating the intangible cultural heritage that forms an important part of who we are as Singaporeans.

With the support of our fellow Singaporeans, we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and the opportunities to showcase Singapore's rich cultural heritage to the world. We believe that this process will spark important conversations and foster a deeper appreciation of our shared heritage.

Promoting and Caring for Our Archaeological Treasures


A country’s archaeological heritage sheds light about the societies that came before us and provides a window into our shared past. The fascinating and sizable collection of artefacts recovered from Fort Canning Hill, for example, reveal Singapore’s rich history as a bustling port during the 14th century. Some of these artefacts are currently on proud display at the Singapore History Gallery in the National Museum of Singapore.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts under HP1, we have laid out frameworks to govern our nation’s archaeological resources. We will continue the review of existing legislation to better protect our archaeological heritage and to uplift the conduct of archaeological activities in Singapore. Our partnership with academic institutions will also continue to support archaeological digs and studies, further expanding our knowledge and understanding of the past.

Moving ahead, we will focus on raising public awareness and fostering appreciation for archaeology as a field of study through museum exhibitions and outreach efforts. We are also committed to developing local capabilities in archaeological research and related activities to support our ongoing mission.

Collecting History as It Happens


Singapore is constantly evolving, and the stories of our present will become the heritage of tomorrow. That is why the National Museum of Singapore piloted Collecting Contemporary Singapore, an initiative to capture history as it happens. Through this programme, we aim to collect and preserve the stories, objects and photographs that collectively reflect the lived experiences of Singaporeans today, ensuring that they are not lost to future generations.

With HP2, the National Museum is excited to explore new ways of presenting our contemporary artefacts and getting Singaporeans involved in telling our stories. We believe that everyone can contribute to the multi-faceted and unfolding history of our dynamic nation.

Some of our pilot programmes have already borne fruit. We began crowdsourcing donations of artefacts, documents and stories centring on various themes. In 2022, for example, under the theme of Technology, we invited the public to submit objects and related memories to a website. We will continue to experiment with novel methods of public engagement so that our museum becomes a dynamic institution that engages and learns from our audiences.

Establishing the Founders’ Memorial


The Founders' Memorial will be built at the heart of the Bay East Garden and serves as a tribute to the incredible journey that led Singapore to its independence. Not only does the Memorial honour our past, it also aims to inspire Singaporeans to work together towards a brighter future. The Memorial's design reflects the values and ideals of Singapore's first-generation leaders, including the founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and other key personalities who played important roles in the early years of our nation-building.

From the start, public engagement has been crucial in the development of the Memorial, and it continues to be a vital part of our journey towards completion. Since 2015, we have been working closely with the community to establish the Memorial's vision and location, guide its architectural design and visitor experience, and develop its narrative and storytelling.

As we build the Memorial, we are dedicated to involving Singaporeans in creating dynamic exhibitions and programmes to make it a "living" tribute that everyone can connect with and take pride in.

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