Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore

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The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM, ) is an institution which forms a part of the three museums of the National Museum of Singapore. It is one of the pioneering museums in the region to specialise in pan-Asian cultures and civilisations. The museum specialises in the material history of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia, from which the diverse ethnic groups of Singapore trace their ancestry.


The museum first opened its doors at the Old Tao Nan School building on 22 April 1997 at Armenian Street, with exhibits largely centred on Chinese civilisation. With the restoration of the Empress Place Building, the museum established its new flagship museum there on 2 March 2003, rapidly expanding the collection to other areas of Asia. The Armenian Street branch closed for renovations on 1 January 2006 and reopened on 25 April 2008 as the Peranakan Museum, specialising in Peranakan culture.

On September 16, 2006, the Museum officially launched its new logo with a new slogan The Asian Civilisations Museum - Where Asian Cultures Come Alive!. This new logo reflects the museum's unique location by the historic Singapore River, the source and origin of Singapore multi-cultural society, which the ACM presents in its collection. The brown reflected image also alludes to the museum as a place for reflection, while the vibrant orange is an invigorating colour which represents activity and energy.

Collection highlights

The Chinese collection is represented by fine Dehua porcelain figures, Taoist and Buddhistic statuary, export porcelain, calligraphy and other examples of decorative art.

The South Asian Galleries feature statuary from a broad spectrum of periods including some fine Chola bronzes. Of particularly note is the Chola bronze sculpture of Uma, the consort of Shiva and that of Somaskanda. The early Buddhist art of India is also represented by works hailing from the Mathura and Gandhara schools. The red sandstone Mathura Buddha of the museum's collection dated to the Kanishka era is rare and masterful work. Other areas of note include South Indian woodwork, Nepali-Tibetan bronzes, textiles, late medieval miniatures and colonial prints.

The Southeast Asian collections are broad in scope and are rich in ethnological material. Representing the aristocratic art of ancient Southeast Asia are Khmer sculptures, Javanese temple sculpture (some on loan from Leiden), later Buddhist art from Burma/ Thailand and the Sinicised temple art of Vietnam. Peranakan gold, textiles, tribal ornament and theatrical masks are other strengths of the collection.

Certain gallery rooms are also used for temporary exhibitions. A recent exhibition included the display of the spectacular bronze age masks from Sanxingdui, Sichuan Province, China.

Past exhibitions

Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals
The Egawa Donation: A Collection of Japanese and Chinese Inspired Ceramics

Land of the Morning: The Philippines and its People
Seeing The Invisible: An Insight to Conservation
The Kangxi Emperor: Treasures from the Forbidden City
Fantastic Creatures!
Neither East Nor West: Asians in Monochrome
Seeing Red: Propaganda and Material Culture in China (1966 – 1976)
Hunters and Collectors: The Origins of the Southeast Asian Collection
The Unguarded Moment by Steve McCurry

Neither East Nor West: Asians in Monochrome
Seeing Red: Propaganda and Material Culture in China (1966 – 1976)
Viet Nam! From Myth To Modernity

Many Traditions, One Strand – Textiles of the ASEAN Countries
On The Nalanda Trail: Buddhism in India, China and Southeast Asia
Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Sanctum of Enlightened Respect III
Beauty in Asia: 200 BCE to Today
Trade Ceramics in Southeast Asia
Mystery Men: Finds from China's Lost Age

The Xiang Xue Zhuang Collection: Latest Donations to the Asian Civilisations Museum
Mobile Homes: Tents and Shelters for People on the Move
Hidden Faces: The Art of Japanese Masks

Power Dressing: Textiles for Rulers and Priests from the Chris Hall Collection


The museum has an Asian-themed restaurant with a large selection of local culinary delights and regional cuisines. There are also ballrooms and halls available for functions. The museum shop has museum-inspired souvenirs and a wide range of books on Asian art.

See also

Peranakan Museum