The Asian Civilisations Museum is devoted to exploring the rich artistic heritage of Asia, especially the ancestral cultures of Singaporeans. Opened in 1997 and in its present building by the Singapore River since 2003, the museum traces its roots to the Raffles Museum, founded in the middle of the 19th century. ACM focuses on the many historical connections between the cultures of Asia, and between Asia and the world. Singapore’s history as a port city that brought people together from all over the world is used as a means of examining the history of Asia. Special exhibitions bring magnificent objects from around the world to our Singapore audience. Signature programmes like the annual ACM After Dark, Saturdays@ACM, and Lunchtime Concerts encourage visitors to connect more closely with culture and the arts.
Ancient Religions Gallery
Shi Hou Guanyin
The ACM’s collection began with objects from the colonial Raffles Library and Museum. The major part was ethnological materials collected in Southeast Asia – essentially examples of the crafts, tools, weapons, utensils, and costume of the Malay and other indigenous Southeast Asian cultures. There was also a small collection of Chinese objects. Collections in new areas were started in the 1990s: West Asia/the Islamic world and South Asia, so that the ACM could fulfil its mission to highlight the roots of Singapore’s different ethnic groups in the various cultures and civilisations of Asia. The ACM has since grown through acquisitions, donations, and loans from organisations and private individuals. The collection is now one of the most comprehensive in the region.
Explore Our Galleries


To foster understanding of the diverse heritage cultures of Singapore, their interconnections, and their connections with the world by exploring Asia’s artistic heritage.
Peranakan Museum
The First Location
ACM opened in the former Tao Nan School Building on Armenian Street on 21 April 1997, with then Deputy PM Lee Hsien Loong presiding. The museum included 10 galleries, with thematic displays on China and space for special exhibitions. Later, a Peranakan display was added, after a special exhibition on the topic proved especially popular.
Peranakan Museum
The Armenian Street ACM building had closed at the end of 2005, and, because of the immense popularity of the Peranakan displays in the old ACM, was redeveloped into a brand new Peranakan Museum. On 25 April 2008, the Peranakan Museum was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Operated and managed by the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Peranakan Museum explores the culture of hybrid communities in the former Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang, and their links with other communities in Southeast Asia.
New Spaces
In 2003, the ACM opened a second venue at the historic Empress Place Building. Completed in 1867, the neoclassical-style building along the Singapore River was used for over 100 years to house colonial and, later, Singapore government offices. Renovations to design this second venue had begun in 1997, even before the Armenian Street location opened. Conversion of the building into a state-of-the-art museum took 5 years.
Building History
The original part of the building that now houses the Asian Civilisations Museum was completed in 1867. There were several additions to the building in the late 19th and early 20th century. It served as the colonial government offices, and housed numerous government departments, from customs to the legislative council, and until the 1980s, the Immigration Department. From 1989 until 1995, it served as the Empress Place Museum. The ACM moved into the building in 2003. After more than a decade, ACM is again renewing itself, adding to the rich history of its building.
Architecture and Design
The architecture of the ACM reflects Singapore’s own urban architecture – a mix of the old and the new; the colonial and the contemporary. The two new wings add over 1,300 sqm to the ACM.

(Image Credits: GreenHilLi Pte Ltd)

Tang Shipwreck Gallery
In the third quarter of 2014, the ACM embarked on a comprehensive renewal of the museum, which includes new construction and reimagined galleries that will display objects in new ways. The expanded and refreshed galleries will enhance visitor experience and better share Singapore’s Asian heritage through the historical connections between cultures.
Scholars Gallery
Table Screen: Gathering of Scholars
Kwek Hong Png Wing
The new three-storey Kwek Hong Png Wing (869 sqm) is a striking contemporary cube that floats on the Empress Place side of the museum. The wing was made possible by a generous donation from Hong Leong Foundation.
The Scholar in Chinese Culture
Tang Shipwreck Gallery
Octagonal cup with musicians and a dancer
Architecture and Design
Designed by GreenHilLi Pte Ltd, headed by architects Nigel Greenhill and Li Sau Kei, they bring light and space to the museum visitor experience, using warm-toned titanium and glass to create a look that contrasts yet complements the original neoclassical façade.
Tang Shipwreck Gallery

Show Your Support

We are extremely thankful for the support of our kind donors and volunteers, without whom the preservation of our Asian cultural heritage would not be possible.

Support ACM