ACM as it is popularly known as in acronym loving Singapore is a relatively new museum, opening its doors in 1997. However, the original building was first constructed in the middle part of the 1860’s apparently using convict labor. It was always a Government Building and was known as such until the early 20th Century and at that time the name was changed to Empress Place. That was to commemorate Queen Victoria.
(looking towards Boat Quay)
A few Singaporeans still remember the building used to be a ‘one stop shop’ Government office looking after birth and death registry, immigration department, citizen’s registry and also marriage registry. It began its new avatar as a museum in 1997 hosting a series of exhibitions from China.
(Asian Civilizations Museum)
There are events going on all the time at the museum and I believe a visit is well worth it because of the building itself, beautifully maintained heritage structure that it is and also to spend time in the museum’s surroundings. Currently “Beauty in Asia” is an exhibit featuring more than 300 pieces of art and art forms collected from all over Asia from 200 BCE to date.
(ACM from across the river)
The ACM is situated right next to the Singapore River, a favorite place of mine in Singapore. The river is lined with restaurants and boutique watering holes along a stretch called as Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. These are places where, in the past, trading boats sailed up river to the warehouses (godowns as they were known as in British India and Malaya) for storage and for traders to sell their wares. The old buildings are still there, being used these days as brew pubs, restaurants and bars.
(Sir Stamford Raffles)
Surrounding the ACM are metal sculptures depicting life as it is was on the river in the early days of Singapore. Right next to the ACM is the place where the legendary (but real) chap called Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore and reportedly changed the sleepy fishing village that it was, into a modern trading outpost of the British Empire. There are many structures bearing his name. He was knighted suitably of course.
(Plaque commemorating Sir Raffles landing site in Singapore)
(Sculpture depicting trade in the old days)
(Sculpture depicting an indian chettiar money lender and chinese trader)
(The art museum next door)
(View across river-Boat Quay)
(ACM from near the statue of Sir Raffles)
I’d suggest a walk around the area, crossing old heritage bridges that are for pedestrian only. The nice broad walkways, light breeze coming off the river, the lights, the ambience of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay can entice many a weary traveler to sit down for the evening and dip his moustache (or the area around the upper lip for the non-moustache types) into a pint of cold draft and tuck into some indigenous food or a selection of many cuisines from around the World.