Asian Civilisations Museum celebrates the Peranakan way of life - Apa Khabair? – Peranakan Museum in the making

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Asian Civilisations Museum presents a special throwback to the Peranakan Museum’s past and snippets of Peranakan art and culture with Apa Khabair? – Peranakan Museum in the Making.

Venue: Asian Civilisations Museum, Contemporary Gallery
Dates: 25 Feb - 29 May 2022
Admission: Free for Singaporeans and PRs

Apa Khabair? – Peranakan Museum in the Making, a pop-up exhibition held at ACM’s Contemporary Gallery, represents the the Asian Civilisations Museum's commitment to working with the diverse Peranakan communities to broaden the public’s understanding of this vibrant living culture. It also provides visitors a teaser of what to expect when the much-anticipated reopening of the Peranakan Museum happens in the first half of 2023. 

Vsitors to Apa Khabair? can discover the worlds of our Peranakan communities in three sections: Immerse in community collaborations on display; take a walk down memory lane with the historical timeline that starts with the Tao Nan School building to trace its transformation into the Peranakan Museum; and encounter a selection of some 17 objects depicting the Peranakan way of life, some of them on display for the first time.

Keeping Peranakan culture alive 

Apa Khabair? brings to the fore collaborative efforts and deep ties between ACM, the Peranakan Museum, and the wider Peranakan community. Drawn from campaigns that have been featured on the Peranakan Museum’s social media platforms, the exhibition brings the virtual into a physical space, foregrounds our community partners, and provides insights into these living communities and cultures.

Whether it’s watching Mrs Sushila Philips Roy, an expert from the Peranakan Indian (Chitty Melaka) Association Singapore, guide a guest student in making her first kopiah (a traditional Peranakan headgear), or learning how to make hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp sambal) from the National Heritage Board Intangible Cultural Heritage Steward 2020, Baba GT Lye, the I Say You Do and Recipes & Stories series highlight the significance of living traditions, spanning Arab Peranakan, Jawi Peranakan, Peranakan Indian, and Chinese Peranakan cultures.

Reliving our Peranakan past through cultural masterpieces

Some 17 Peranakan treasures depicting the Peranakan way of life will be on display, including delicate porcelain vessels, finely crafted heirlooms, and works of art. Objects of note include a ceremonial carriage, and two sireh sets, all three of which are on show for the first time.

These objects possess the intricacy and maximalism of decorative beauty that have become quintessential elements of the Peranakan aesthetic. They show the craftsmanship and rich diversity of material culture embraced by the Peranakan culture; sophisticated details show cultural adaptations and connections to the Malay World, China, the West, and more. 

The Peranakan Museum in the Making

Apa Khabair? celebrates 14 years of the Peranakan Museum with a timeline of its colourful history. The timeline guides visitors through the evolution of the building on Armenian Street, as it originated as the Tao Nan primary school, then changed to the first site of ACM, then into the Peranakan Museum we know today.

The timeline highlights the many exhibitions shown at the Peranakan Museum, including popular exhibitions like Nyonya Needlework: Embroidery and Beadwork in the Peranakan World, and the museum's first travelling exhibition, Baba Bling: The Peranakans and their Jewellery, held at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris.

Ahead of the Peranakan Museum’s reopening in 2023, this timeline serves as a teaser to keep the museum in all our minds. Visitors can look forward to the Peranakan Museum's return, dedicated to the rich culture of our Peranakan communities here in Singapore and the region.

Other Programmes

Also available are a myriad of programmes and activities at ACM, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in multiple facets of our lively Peranakan culture, such as tours led by community members sharing their own experiences of being Peranakan, workshops, demonstrations, and digital content. Families will also be able to enjoy the exhibition with their little ones using a specially created family guide. 


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This article is prepared by

Jiarong Yu
Daddy to 2 adorable little ones. Misses them the moment they are not around, regrets missing them the moment they are around.

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