The Singapore Philatelic Museum has got to be the most misunderstood among the museums in Singapore. Very few Singaporeans I know have actually been to the Philatelic Museum.
“The Phila what?”
“The Philatelic Museum.”
“To do with stamps. Postage stamps.”
“Well um, that’s got to be boring, right?”
Not exactly. It’s our favourite one to visit, and I’d like to think that we’re not boring people.
It must be tough for those who are in charge of designing the exhibits, what with the public’s preconceived notion of how ‘boring’ a museum of stamps is going to be. So kudos, kudos to them for all their ingenious ideas on tying in stamps to a variety of interesting exhibits.
This is also the museum that probably goes through the most change on a regular basis. So much so that each time our 4-year old visits, she’s slightly disappointed because the stuff she used to like would be gone. But then she’d find new things to enjoy, and all would be well with the world again.
The first room we always visit is the Heritage Room. What’s the spice trade all about and what do spices have to do with Singapore’s early years? This is where we can learn about Singapore’s early migrants and their trades. We like the gigantic cupboard of information – open each door to find out more bite-sized snippets on Singapore’s culture and festivals.
The old Chinese medicine cabinet is also fun – all the drawers hold a different type of spice; see if you can match them to the samples at the interactive station. That’s where you can place the individual canisters in baskets to find out more.
I love this room. This is where the kids can pretend to be kopi tiam (coffee shop) stallholders and brew coffee, this is where they can try on old fashioned clogs. This is where nobody will come and tell you to hey please keep it down. In fact, this museum is pretty chill – no security guards roving around shushing anyone. There really isn’t much that mischievous children can destroy – not that there isn’t much stuff, there is. But nothing that can really be destroyed by little hands. Because everything is so hardy.
There’s always a room dedicated to the current year according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. For the year of the goat, there was a dress up corner, fun facts about goats and sheep, and a life-sized model of a sheep to feed with plastic fruit and vegetables.
This year is the year of the monkey and the More than Monkeys exhibit is a room that looks like a mini forest – it’s got short videos on monkeys, monkey puzzles, and monkey related folk tales from around the region, and little wooden monkeys to find and hang around.
And of course, postage stamps. Stamps, stamps and stamps everywhere. You can’t escape them. It is the Stamp Museum after all. But it’s always tied to the exhibit.
Want a quick history lesson on Singapore? The 50 Years of Singapore exhibit will get you up to date in 10 minutes. Singaporeans, see if you can spot familiar stamps from your youth! And coming up soon, the Shaking it with Shakespeare exhibition – oooh I can’t wait!
What do old post boxes look like? What did postmen used to wear? Where in the world is the underwater postbox? And what? Someone has actually mailed a coconut somewhere before? Find out about it all here at this museum.
The Singapore Philatelic Museum is located at 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 and opens daily from 10am to 7pm. Find out how to get to the Singapore Philatelic Museum here. Admission is free for Singaporeans and PRs; others pay $6 (adults) or $4 children aged 3-12).