History and Milestones

About NHB

The National Heritage Board (NHB) is the custodian of Singapore’s heritage. We are responsible for telling the Singapore story, sharing the Singaporean experience and imparting our Singapore spirit.

NHB's mission is to preserve and celebrate the shared heritage of our diverse communities, for the purpose of education, nation-building and cultural understanding. It manages the national museums and heritage institutions, and sets policies relating to heritage sites, National Monuments and the national collection. Through the national collection, NHB curates heritage programmes and presents exhibitions to connect the past, present and future generations of Singaporeans.

NHB was formed on 1 August 1993, and is a statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

We manage the following museums and heritage institutions, and are the place manager for the BrasBasah.Bugis precinct, Singapore’s arts and cultural belt.

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History and Milestone 2013


Launch of first community museum – Our Museum @ Taman Jurong


NHB partners residents in Taman Jurong to develop Singapore’s first community museum and foster an appreciation of the arts, heritage and culture.

History and Milestone 2012


Re-opening of the Malay Heritage Centre


Developed with contributions from the community, the revamped Malay Heritage Centre re-opened on 1 September 2012, featuring new content, updated facilities, as well as never-seen-before artefacts complemented by the National Collection.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore


With 2012 marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore, NHB, together with private partners such as the Singapore Heritage Society and The Changi Museum, launched a series of activities in commemoration of one of most significant and poignant chapters in Singapore’s history.

History and Milestone 2011


Singapore Biennale 2011: Open House


Singapore Art Museum organised the Singapore Biennale for the first time, which featured 161 works by 63 artists from over 30 countries in its third edition.

The most popular NHB exhibition – Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor & His Legacy


From 24 June to 16 October 2011, Asian Civilisations Museum brought the Terracotta Army along with other magnificent Han and Qin objects to Southeast Asia for the first time. The exhibition was co-organised by the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau and the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center. More than 170,000 visitors – the most visited exhibition to date – saw the exhibition and learned about early China’s rich cultural legacy through stories about the First Emperor, his unification of China, and his monumental burial complex.

Groundbreaking ceremony of the National Art Gallery, Singapore


The groundbreaking ceremony of the National Art Gallery, Singapore, took place on 27 January 2011. Slated to open in 2015, the Gallery will be a leading cultural destination in Singapore for both locals and tourists alike.

Re-opening of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall


Following a year of redevelopment, the revamped Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall re-opened on 8 October 2011. The refurbished memorial hall offers visitors insights into the lives of Dr Sun Yat Sen’s local supporters, as well as highlights the pivotal role that Singapore and Nanyang played in the success of the 1911 Revolution.

Launch of Ang Mo Kio Heritage Trail


The Ang Mo Kio Heritage Trail was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency Advisors in conjunction with Singapore HeritageFest 2011. It was created in partnership with grassroots organisations, schools, long-time residents, business owners in Ang Mo Kio, as well as Members of Parliament.

The collaboration with the community stakeholders allowed NHB to weave personal memories and stories into the trail’s markers and brochure, thus documenting the rich history and heritage of one of Singapore’s oldest towns.

History and Milestone 2010


The first Singapore exhibition to travel overseas – Baba Bling: The Peranakan Chinese of Singapore

This highlight event of the Singapore-France museum collaboration in 2010 saw approximately 500 iconic Peranakan artefacts from the Peranakan Museum travel to the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. It was the first exhibition of such a scale presented in Europe by a Singapore museum and included complementary programming.

History and Milestone 2009


Heritage Institutions join NHB


On 11 March 2009, the NHB signed a Memorandum of Understanding to manage the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial HallMalay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre.

Preservation of Monuments Board joins NHB


On 1 July 2009, the Preservation of Monuments Board merged with NHB. It continues to promote greater awareness and appreciation of Singapore’s architectural heritage and history. To date, there are 72 Monuments in Singapore.

History and Milestone 2008


Peranakan Museum opens


25 April 2008 marked the opening of the world’s first national Peranakan Museum. Housed in the  on Armenian Street, this boutique museum focuses on the colourful history of the Peranakans in Singapore, and features one of the world's best collections of Peranakan culture.

Launch of Night Festival


NHB’s first-ever Night Festival on 18 July 2008 dazzled with 2 weekends of spectacular performances and activities. The yearly cultural extravaganza has become a must-see for all Singaporeans.

SAM at 8Q opens


SAM at 8Q was officially launched by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, former Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, on 15 August 2008. Housed in the former Catholic High School at 8 Queen Street, the museum features the growing contemporary art collection of the Singapore Art Museum.

History and Milestone 2007


The revamped National Museum of Singapore wins two significant awards


The National Museum of Singapore won the Best Re-invented Attraction Award 2007 from the Association of Singapore Attractions on 4 July 2007. In the same year, the museum’s Sejarah Singapura video installation in its Singapore History Gallery secured the Silver Award in the Multimedia Installation category at the annual MUSE Awards held in the United States.

Developing Our Virtual Repository – Singapore Collections Online (SGCOOL)


SGCOOL, Singapore’s first digital repository of artefacts and artworks was launched in May 2007, making highlights from the National Collection publicly available and accessible online.

First ASEAN Museum Directors' Symposium


The inaugural ASEAN Museum Directors’ Symposium, themed Making Museums Matter, was participated by over 100 ASEAN museum leaders where they exchanged ideas and experiences while fostering ties with their learned counterparts. The symposium was organized by the Heritage Conservation Centre.

History and Milestone 2006


National Museum of Singapore re-opens


On 7 December 2006, the refurbished National Museum of Singapore was officially opened by His Excellency S R Nathan, President of the Republic of Singapore after three years of redevelopment. At 120 years old, it is Singapore's oldest museum with the youngest and most innovative soul, and redefines museum experiences through cutting-edge ways of presenting history.

Memories at Old Ford Factory opens


Memories at Old Ford Factory was officially opened by then Minister for Defence Mr Teo Chee Hean on 16 February 2006. The heritage centre focuses on Singapore's experience during the Japanese Occupation.

The National Art Gallery, Singapore comes on board


On 2 September 2006, Dr Lee Boon Yang, former Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts officially announced the setting up of the National Art Gallery of Singapore, which will be a new visual arts institution dedicated to the display, promotion, research and study of Southeast Asian art, including Singapore Art.

First government agency to move into social media


The launch of in March 2006 marked NHB as the first government agency to engage in social media. is a heritage blog that harbours a treasure trove of stories and memories of the Singapore of old. The site is immensely popular with the younger generation who are interested in discovering their unique heritage here in Singapore.

History and Milestone 2005


Renewing Sino-Singapore Bilateral Relations


Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Republic of China in November 2005 to renew bilateral cultural cooperation. The move paved the way for Asian Civilisations Museum’s collaboration with the Sichuan Cultural Relics Bureau on an exhibition of Chinese ancient bronzes from the famous Sanxingdui site, as well as for Singapore Art Museum’s partnership with the Guangzhou Art Museum, China Art Academy in Hangzhou and Shanghai Art Museum on a joint travelling exhibition on contemporary ink painting and calligraphy.

History and Milestone 2004


Launch of Singapore HeritageFest


On 16 July 2004, the first Singapore HeritageFest was launched to raise awareness and appreciation of Singapore's rich heritage.

History and Milestone 2003


Asian Civilisations Museum relocates to Empress Place


Official opening of the Asian Civilisations Museum at the newly restored Empress Place building on 1 March 2003. The museum covers 5,000 years of Asian history and culture from West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia to East Asia.

History and Milestone 2002


Reflections at Bukit Chandu opens


, a World War II interpretative centre focusing on the last battle of the Malay Regiment in Singapore, opened its doors on 15 February 2002.


Singapore participates in Venice Biennale for the first time


Singapore Art Museum organised Singapore’s first participation in Venice Biennale, probably the most important international exposition of contemporary visual art in the world.

History and Milestone 2000


Heritage Conservation Centre opens


Opened on 15 September 2000, the Heritage Conservation Centre was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Today, it is home to Singapore’s national collection, and a leader in cultural materials conservation in this region.

Singapore Philatelic Museum joins NHB


The Singapore Philatelic Museum transferred from Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to become a fully-owned subsidiary of NHB on 1 April 2000.

History and Milestone 1999


Launch of Singapore’s first National Heritage Trail – Civic District Trail


The Civic District Trail launched on 29 August 1999 was the first national heritage trail in Singapore.

2nd blockbuster exhibition


The blockbuster Eternal Egypt Treasures from the British Museum, featuring over 100 Egyptian artefacts, was held at the Asian Civilisations Museum (at Armenian Street) and attracted over 105,000 people.

1st exhibition to commemorate national achievement


The exhibition Everest Singapore at the Summit, officially launched at Singapore History Museum (SHM) by the late President Ong Teng Cheong, was the first time an exhibition was held in Singapore to commemorate a national achievement.

3D show becomes permanent exhibit at the Singapore History Museum


The first ever high-definition three dimensional show The Singapore Story Overcoming the Oddsthat was first shown at Suntec City in 1998 became a permanent exhibition at the Singapore History Museum.

History and Milestone 1998


National Archives of Singapore moves to its new home at Canning Rise


National Archives of Singapore celebrated its 30th anniversary with the official opening of its new premises at Fort Canning Rise. Its facilities include a mini-exhibition entrance foyer, five purpose-built environmentally-controlled repositories, a reference room and a multimedia kiosk.

History and Milestone 1997


Asian Civilisations Museum’s first wing opens at Armenian Street


Official opening of Asian Civilisations Museum at Armenian Street, previously the old Tao Nan 

History and Milestone 1996


Singapore Art Museum opens


Housed at the former St Joseph’s Institution, the Singapore Art Museum was opened on 20 January 1996. It advocates and presents the contemporary art practices of Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia, situating them within the global context of art making today.

Founding of Museum Roundtable


Founding of Museum Roundtable(MR) which looks at developing a stronger museum-going culture in Singapore. Today, the group has over 50 member museums.

History and Milestone 1995


World War II historic site markers installed


14 World War II markers were installed to indicate locations that were significant in the war years, and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War.

History and Milestone 1994


1st NHB blockbuster exhibition


Alamkara 5000 years of India was staged by the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) at the former National Museum venue, drawing a record 165,000 people. This was the highest visitorship for any exhibition held in a museum in Singapore.

Special exhibition features artefacts from the British Museum and British Library


The exhibition Revisited 175 Years of the Founding of Singapore was the first time artefacts from the collections of the British Museum and British Library in UK were featured at the Singapore History Museum.


History and Milestone 1993


The Birth of NHB


On 1 August 1993, the National Heritage Board was formed with the merger of the National ArchivesNational Museum and Oral History Department.