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A Lighter Side Of History

A Lighter Side of History celebrates Singapore’s diverse multicultural heritage, from food and dress to the different languages and customs passed down over the years. Featuring a range of fun and engaging hands-on workshops, talks, performances and demonstrations by heritage experts as well as collectors and practitioners, A Lighter Side of History is designed for everyone from beginners to history enthusiasts.
Coffee Appreciation LSOH
A Lighter Side of History: Coffee Beans for the Soul – Coffee Appreciation and Painting Workshop
*Postponed till further notice. Stay tuned to our social channels for updates. 

What is the difference between specialty coffee and your daily cup of kopi-o-siew-dai? Have you ever wondered what is the difference between Robusta and Arabica beans? Join us for a fun afternoon to hear, smell and lim kopi (drink coffee) with your family and friends, as the founder of Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee unravels the history of coffee in Singapore!

With the aroma of coffee still wafting in the air, relax and express your creativity by doing coffee painting facilitated by Khoo Shu Hui, a coffee artist.

This programme is suitable for all participants from ages 13 and above. Price includes the coffee appreciation workshop, sampling of small cups of coffee, 2 boxes of Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee drip bags and your very own coffee painting. Stay tuned to our social channels for the registration link.

This programme is held in conjunction with the exhibition Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present.

Biography of Facilitators

Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee
Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee was established in 2014 in Queenstown with the aim of bringing better coffee to all. They currently carry more than 15 coffees from different origins (countries/farms) to meet the wide preferences of their customers. They also hold occasional workshops and classes to share their knowledge about coffee beans and machines with the public.

Khoo Shu Hui
Khoo Shu Hui is an art educator who enjoys sharing her passion for art by teaching in primary and secondary schools. She has also run art workshops at Singapore General Hospital, People’s Association and National Library Board. Her work was exhibited at the Youth Sparkle art exhibition held at Singapore Chambers of Commerce.
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A Lighter Side of History: Food that Binds Us

Singaporeans are passionate about food. We have lively discussions – online and offline - on where the best dishes can be found. Did you know that the concept of hawker centres – housing street food peddlers in a specific area - was only introduced after Singapore’s independence in 1965?

Since then, hawker centres have evolved to be a unique and integral part of Singaporeans’ daily lives that reflects Singapore multicultural society and rich food heritage which can be seen in our special exhibition, Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present. This culminated on 16 December 2020, Singapore’s hawker culture was successfully inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Importantly, hawker centres and food have also brought families closer. In this video, we will hear from the owners of two special eateries about how their fathers have inspired them to be in the business of food. Tree Coconut Nasi Lemak was started by a next-gen hawker to continue her father’s legacy of selling nasi lemak and Kampong Amin Dim Sum is a family venture (father and sons) specialising in halal dim sum.

*Kindly note that Kampung Amin has ceased their operations.

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A Lighter Side of History: Documenting 'A Reclusive Ramadan'

2020 was an exceptional year for Muslims in Singapore as the country was in the middle of the Circuit Breaker which happened during Ramadan and Hari Raya.

For Hari Raya Celebrations this year at the National Museum, join Zakaria Zainal, one of the photographers that contributed to the Picturing the Pandemic exhibition as he shares interesting stories and challenges of photographing 2020’s ‘Reclusive Ramadan’.


A Lighter Side of History: Mooncake Memories with Chuan Ji Bakery

With Mid-Autumn Festival around the corner, we are presented with a wide variety of mooncakes of different flavours, textures and styles. The art of making mooncakes is a time-honoured tradition that has been preserved over the years, and in this edition of A Lighter Side of History, we take a closer look Chuan Ji Bakery, who is renowned for its signature flaky Hainanese biscuit that is known as the “Hainanese mooncake”.

Take a walk down memory lane as Chong Suan and his mother, the owners of Chuan Ji Bakery, share what motivated them to preserve the art of making this traditional Hainanese pastry and their memories of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with their family. The mother-son duo will also demonstrate how to make this traditional Hainanese mooncake, based on a recipe that is more than 90 years old!

Image courtesy of Chuan Ji Bakery


LSOH: Shining a light on deepavali and ayurveda


A Lighter Side of History: Shining A Light on Deepavali and Ayurveda
Video will premiere on 7 November below and on the NMS YouTube channel

Deepavali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a major cultural festival in Singapore that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. During this festive season, families decorate their homes with brilliant lights as aromatic spices fill the house and tantalise taste buds.

The inclusion of spices in iconic Deepavali (and other) dishes is a practice associated with Ayurveda, a form of Indian medicine which has roots in ancient Sanskrit sources. Interestingly, Ayurveda shares some common ground with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In this special programme that is presented as part of the museum’s Ethnic Festival Celebrations for Deepavali, explore the similarities and differences between Ayurveda and TCM’s understanding of herbs and spices, with Vasanthi from the Ayurveda Association of Singapore and Mei Yi from Thye Shan Medical Hall.

This programme will also feature paintings of everyday herbs and spices from the museum’s prized William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.

Kueh Rose

Catch these programmes that will be launched 7 to 9 August!

Lighter Side of History: Tasting the Trade Winds with Christopher Tan
7 August

Which of your favourite dishes feature ingredients and flavours that have been adapted from different cultures? How were spices, particularly the ones featured in our William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, incorporated into our local cuisines?

Join award-winning chef and cookbook author Christopher Tan to learn more about the spices and ingredients upon which trading empires were built. These have also become irreplaceable ingredients in many of the fusion foods we enjoy today.

The kueh rose is one such fusion dish eaten during different festivals. Watch this video to learn how to make the lesser-known savoury-spicy kueh rose!

Keen to try some of Christopher’s handmade kueh rose? All you have to do is to submit the correct answers to the quiz at the end of the video. The first 20 viewers with the correct answers will get to taste this dish from the comforts of their homes!*

*Item contains no pork or lard and will be made fresh on delivery day. Limited to one kueh set per mailing address. Details of delivery will be provided closer to the date. Terms and conditions apply.

Chef Damian
A Lighter Side of History: Unwrapping Christmas Traditions with Chef Damian D’Silva

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Christmas in Singapore often revolves around spending time and exchanging gifts with our loved ones. It is the perfect occasion for many Eurasian families to bond while feasting on favourites such as curry debal, sugee cake and pies!

Join heritage cuisine champion Chef Damian D’Silva as he “unwraps” the secrets of making a traditional Eurasian Christmas pie, and shares how different cultures have influenced this hearty dish, sprinkled with his memories of celebrating Christmas through the years.


A Lighter Side of History: Understanding Ramadan

In this interactive session, join our speakers as they unravel the significance of Ramadan, why Muslims fast and the memories associated with this holy month.


A Lighter Side of History: Understanding Ramadan, Part 2

A continuation of the "Understanding Ramadan” video released for International Museum Day on 19 May 2020, this video will focus on Hari Raya and how it is celebrated in Singapore. Watch the video to find out more about the different elements that make up this festive day, and how people are celebrating Hari Raya this year despite the unique circumstances caused by COVID-19.


Family Time

Visit our permanent galleries with your little ones and play spot-the-artefact! Our colourful Early Learning Resources introduce pre-schoolers to our artefacts according to the themes of Numbers, Colours, and ABCs. Available at $8 per set from the Museum Label shop. For more children's activity booklets, click here.

Museum guide

Download our museum guide (English, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil) to find out about the many treasures in our various galleries. In this guide, you will also find the floor plan for easier navigation. Enjoy your visit!

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