Malay Heritage Centre in Singapore

Malay Heritage Centre in Singapore

Istana Kampong Gelam: Rediscovering the Heritage of the Malay Community in singapore


Located in the heart of Singapore, Istana Kampong Gelam stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the Malay community. Built in 1840 by Sultan Ali, the son of Sultan Hussein Shah, this magnificent palace served as the royal seat of the Malay sultans in Singapore. Today, it has been beautifully restored to its former glory and houses the Malay Heritage Centre, a place that offers a deep understanding of the history and traditions of Singapore’s Malay community.

Sultans of the Past:

The Malay Heritage Centre is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, interactive multimedia displays, and colorful exhibits that showcase the rich heritage and culture of the Malay community in Singapore. As you explore the museum, you will be transported back in time to Kampong Gelam, a thriving port town before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. Here, you can learn about the seafaring Bugis people, who played a significant role in the trading activities of the Indonesian archipelago.

The museum not only highlights the lives of the sultans who once resided in Istana Kampong Gelam but also sheds light on the diverse Malay cultures that have shaped Singapore’s history. From traditional Malay costumes and jewelry to intricate wood carvings and calligraphy, the exhibits provide a comprehensive overview of the Malay community’s customs, traditions, and way of life.

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A Palace Restored:

Istana Kampong Gelam has undergone meticulous restoration to preserve its original grandeur. The first palace, constructed in the traditional Malay style, was a timber structure built on stilts. Its upper level, known as the “panggung,” served as the main living and sleeping quarters of the house, while the ground level, called the “kolong,” was used for storage, work, service areas, and even as a children’s play area.

A tour of the Malay Heritage Centre takes visitors on a journey through the different levels of the palace, providing a unique perspective on the layout and design of traditional Malay homes. Starting from the upper floor, the tour guides visitors through the various galleries, showcasing the historical significance of each room and its role in the daily life of the residents.

The Grounds of Istana Kampong Gelam:

The grounds surrounding Istana Kampong Gelam are as captivating as the palace itself. Lush green gardens, carefully manicured lawns, and vibrant flowers create a serene and peaceful atmosphere, providing visitors with a tranquil escape from the bustling city. The Malay Heritage Centre is nestled within these well-preserved grounds, creating a harmonious blend of history and natural beauty.

The gardens also serve as a venue for various cultural events and performances, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions and artistic expressions of the Malay community. From traditional music and dance performances to art exhibitions and craft workshops, the grounds of Istana Kampong Gelam are alive with the spirit of Malay culture.

Preserving and Sharing the Heritage:

The Malay Heritage Centre not only aims to preserve the rich heritage of the Malay community but also strives to share it with a wider audience. Through educational programs, guided tours, and interactive exhibits, the centre provides visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the history, traditions, and contributions of the Malay community in Singapore.

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The centre collaborates with various community organizations, scholars, and experts to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the information presented. It also actively engages with the local Malay community, encouraging them to contribute their stories, artifacts, and knowledge to enrich the museum’s collection and create a sense of ownership and pride among the community members.


In conclusion, Istana Kampong Gelam and the Malay Heritage Centre offer a unique and immersive experience into the rich history and cultural heritage of the Malay community in Singapore. Through its exhibits, interactive displays, and beautifully restored palace, the centre provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the customs, traditions, and way of life of the Malay community. It is a testament to the importance of preserving and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage that has shaped Singapore into the vibrant and multicultural nation it is today. A visit to Istana Kampong Gelam is not just a journey through history but also an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the contributions of the Malay community to Singapore’s cultural landscape.

Address And Location:

85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501

  • Operating Hours

    Malay Heritage Centre Museum
    Tuesday to Sunday 10am–6pm
    Closed on Monday
    Last admission at 5.30pm

    Malay Heritage Centre Compound
    Tuesday to Sunday 8am–8pm
    Friday and Saturday 8am–10pm
    Closed on Monday

  • 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501

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