The Peranakan (per-RAH-na-kahn) Museum is dedicated to what is known as the ‘Peranakan’ culture that is unique to Southeast Asia. Due to the region’s location at the cultural confluence of India, China and, later, the European colonial powers, mixed marriages between people of different cultures became increasingly common.
The descendants of these mixed marriages, known as ‘Peranakans’ began to forge a distinct community and cultural identity that had a tremendous influence upon society in Southeast Asia, and particularly in the lands that would become modern Singapore and Malaysia.
The museum offers a fascinating insight into the development of the Peranakan culture, from its scattered origins in the 1700s and 1800s through to the ways in which Peranakans have adapted to the modernising influences of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Like the National Museum of Singapore, the Peranakan Museum is sectioned according to themes like food, marriage, fashion, and funerals. There are interactive videos in each segment that elaborate on the static artefacts on display, explaining their origins, their evolution over time, and how they have come to define the unique Peranakan culture.
The culinary impact that the Peranakans have had upon Singapore is arguably the most interesting discovery to be made at the museum. Even Singaporeans may not realise how much of the food served at the ubiquitous hawker centres and food courts in Singapore actually trace their roots to Peranakan kitchens, from the spicy laksa curry to the soft vegetable rolls known as popiah.
If the melting pot of cultures in Singapore intrigues you, then the Peranakan Museum is definitely a must-visit.
The Peranakan Museum is located along Armenian Street, which can be reached by taking the MRT to City Hall or Bras Basah, followed by a short walk towards Fort Canning. Admission costs $6 for adults and $3 for concessions, and there is also half-priced entry on Friday nights between 7pm to 9pm. Family discount tickets are also available.
For more information, visit the Peranakan Museum website here: http://www.peranakanmuseum.sg/.