Get on the heritage hunt in 2021 with these event offerings from NHB

Chia Han Keong
·6-min read
A photo of the Sikh police contingent at Pearl’s Hill Police Station in 1930, part of the "Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold" community exhibition to be held at the Indian Heritage Centre in March.
A photo of the Sikh police contingent at Pearl’s Hill Police Station in 1930, part of the "Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold" community exhibition to be held at the Indian Heritage Centre in March. (PHOTO: Courtesy of Charanjit Singh Sidhu)

SINGAPORE — Bored at not being able to travel overseas amid the pandemic? Why not spend some time this year learning about Singapore?

The National Heritage Board (NHB) has lined up a host of exhibitions, festivals, trails and programmes in 2021 to encourage Singaporeans to find out more about their history and heritage. Here are the highlights:


Wan Qing Festival of Spring Celebrations
(Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, until 21 February)

Celebrate the Year of the Ox with family-friendly offerings such as festive drum and lion dance workshops, heritage walking trails and craft activities for children.

Museum Roundtable Lunar New Year Hongbao Campaign 2021
(At 32 Museum Roundtable members, until 19 February)

Visitors will be able to collect uniquely-designed red packets at each of the 32 participating museums, heritage institutions and galleries.


Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID-19 in Singapore
(National Museum of Singapore, February to July)

An exhibition presenting a nation responding and rising up to the challenge of the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, documented through photographs and a short film.

Battle for Singapore 2021
(Various locations, 20 February to 14 March)

The event commemorates the 79th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore through programmes, heritage experts and heritage groups featuring various places and stories related to the Japanese Occupation.

Revamp of heritage portal

NHB’s heritage portal has been revamped with new features and a more user-friendly experience. An improved search engine aims to make heritage more easily accessible to all.


Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold
(Indian Heritage Centre, March/April to 30 September)

Indian Heritage Centre’s second community co-created exhibition offers insights into the small but prominent Sikh community, from their history and culture to their evolution and place in modern Singapore.


Launch of the Sembawang Heritage Trail

The trail will showcase the naval heritage of the area, conserved buildings and past communities who had left a mark on present-day Sembawang – including coastal kampongs, Chong Pang and other villages that emerged around the former British naval base.

Launch of Street Corner Heritage Galleries: Kampong Gelam

NHB is working closely with Kampong Gelam local shop owners with at least 30 years of history to co-create “mini-museums” that showcase the history and heritage of their businesses and trades.

Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto
(Asian Civilisations Museum, 16 April to 19 September)

The exhibition explores Japanese art and culture through two mediums – woodblock prints and photography. The woodblock prints section looks at lifestyles and trends of Edo-period Japan (1603-1868), while the photography component explores modern Kyoto and captures the vanishing traditions of the geisha community through the lens of Singapore photographer Russel Wong.


Singapore HeritageFest 2021
(Various locations, 3 to 30 May)

The 18th edition of the Singapore HeritageFest (SHF) will feature both on-site and online experiences, with focus on two themes. The first is on Singapore’s healthcare history, in conjunction with Singapore General Hospital’s 200th anniversary. The second is on the country’s rich food culture – exploring the food of different communities and how traditional recipes are reinvented, as well as examining issues of food sources and sustainability.

Artist renderings of the upcoming "Modern Women of the Republic: Fashion and Progress in China and Singapore" exhibition. (PHOTO: National Heritage Board)
Artist renderings of the upcoming "Modern Women of the Republic: Fashion and Progress in China and Singapore" exhibition. (PHOTO: National Heritage Board)


Modern Women of the Republic: Fashion and Progress in China and Singapore
(Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 5 June to 31 December)

The exhibition showcases Chinese women’s clothing and accessories from China and Singapore across almost a hundred years – from the late Qing period (1890s) to the 1970s. By charting the changes in women’s fashion, the rise and development of what society regarded as “modern women” becomes evident.

Children’s season 2021
(Various locations)

This year’s edition goes into the digital realm – encompassing all aspects of art, culture, heritage and education – to inspire, engage and educate children of all ages.

#SGFASHIONNOW, in partnership with LASALLE and TaFF
(Asian Civilisations Museum, 11 June to 31 October)

Asian Civilisations Museum’s first exhibition on Singapore contemporary fashion will feature works by eight designers, exploring designs and concepts reflective of Singapore fashion and Asian heritage. Co-curated by LASALLE College of the Arts, the community exhibition will also include a winning design from the Textiles and Fashion Federation’s (TaFF) Singapore Stories design competition in 2020.


Indian Heritage Centre CultureFest 2021
(Indian Heritage Centre)

Over two weekends, the hybrid edition of CultureFest will offer an eclectic line-up of cultural performances, thematic precinct trails, art installations and workshops to promote the diversity of Indian artistic and cultural expressions.


Singapore Night Festival 2021
(Bras Basah/Bugis precinct, 20 to 28 August)

Cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular festival returns this year to tell the diverse stories of Bras Basah/Bugis with a contemporary twist through artworks, performances and food/retail experiences. Festival-goers are encouraged to explore the nooks and crannies of the precinct through a unique night-time experience centred on unexpectedness and vibrancy.


Wan Qing Mid-Autumn Festival 2021
(Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 1 to 30 September)

Learn about Chinese traditions and customs with programmes such as mooncake-making classes, storytelling sessions and interactive craft demonstrations. There will also be thematic Mid-Autumn lantern installation on the lawn of the memorial hall, produced in collaboration with Thai label Ngaew.


Malay CultureFest 2021
(Malay Heritage Centre)

The Malay Heritage Centre celebrates diversity in Malay artistic and cultural expressions over two weeks this month, in line with its 2021 theme “Adat” (Customs). There will be annual programmes such as Lintas Nusantara, film screenings and lectures, along with a series of programmes in relation to the special exhibition “Urang Banjar: Heritage and Culture of the Banjar in Singapore”.


Yongle.Wanli – Emperors of the Ming
(Asian Civilisations Museum, 27 November 2021 to 27 February 2022)

Singapore’s first exhibition to be centred on the Ming Dynasty, it will focus on the culture and history of Ming China during the reigns of two monarchs, Yongle and Wanli. The exhibition will showcase around 110 Ming-period objects from the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Patron of Heritage Awards 2020
(Asian Civilisations Museum)

The annual event honours individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions towards enriching Singapore’s national heritage.


Launch of the Sentosa Heritage Trail

Curated together with Sentosa Development Corporation, the trail will cover the history of heritage of Sentosa, looking into the island’s history as a military base. It will highlight sites such as Fort Serapong and Fort Siloso and feature memories of the kampong life led by the villagers of the island.

Dislocations: Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore (working title)

The exhibition commemorates the events of 15 February 1942, gives voice to more personal stories, and looks at the impact the war continues to have on people today.

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