A Peranakan heritage house with exhibits just as vibrant as its bright blue exterior, NUS Baba House is a fantastic journey into the early 20th-century home of a prominent Straits Chinese family. The term “Peranakan” is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, referring to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage. This unique cultural group emerged from intermarriages between Chinese immigrants and local Malays or Indonesians.
NUS Baba House is located in singapore and was once the ancestral home of shipping tycoon Wee Bin. This pre-war terrace house is one of the few traditional Peranakan shophouses in Singapore that still retains its elaborate original interiors. The house showcases the opulent lifestyle of the wealthy Peranakan community during the early 20th century.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) acquired and restored the house with the help of a donation from Agnes Tan, the youngest daughter of renowned Malacca-born businessman and community leader Tun Tan Cheng Lock. After a two-year restoration, NUS Baba House opened its doors to the public in 2008. Today, it is managed by the university, which has diligently preserved its exterior and interior architecture, including the furnishing and household wares.
The restoration of NUS Baba House was a meticulous process, with researchers from the university working to maintain the authenticity of the house. Archaeologists and art historians had the opportunity to carry out excavations and study the building’s ornamentation. This attention to detail ensures that visitors can experience a true glimpse into the Peranakan heritage.
Upon entering NUS Baba House, visitors are transported back in time as they explore the various rooms and spaces. The house is filled with over 2,000 Peranakan antiques and decorative items, which are displayed on the first and second floors. These artifacts provide a rich insight into the Peranakan culture, showcasing their unique blend of Chinese and local influences.
The first floor of NUS Baba House features the main living area, including the formal dining room, the family altar, and the parlor. The intricate woodwork, elaborate furniture, and decorative tiles showcase the wealth and status of the family. Each piece tells a story of the Peranakan heritage and their affinity for intricate craftsmanship.
Moving up to the second floor, visitors will find the bedrooms and personal spaces of the family members. The bedrooms are adorned with ornate furniture, delicate porcelain, and beautiful textiles. The attention to detail in these rooms is astounding, reflecting the Peranakan’s love for beauty and aesthetics.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, NUS Baba House also hosts temporary exhibitions on Peranakan themes at the gallery on the third floor. These exhibitions provide a deeper understanding of the Peranakan culture, delving into their traditions, customs, and rituals. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the Peranakan’s unique cuisine, clothing, and social practices.
It is important to note that visits to NUS Baba House are strictly by appointment, and visitors are required to sign up in advance for a heritage tour. This ensures that the experience is intimate and allows for a more immersive exploration of the house and its artifacts. The heritage tour is led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the history and significance of each room and item.
NUS Baba House is not just a museum but a living testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Peranakan community. It serves as a reminder of the diversity and cultural exchange that has shaped Singapore’s history. Through careful restoration and preservation, NUS Baba House allows visitors to step back in time and appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the Peranakan culture.
In conclusion, NUS Baba House is a remarkable heritage house in Singapore that offers a unique and immersive experience into the world of the Peranakan community. Its vibrant exterior and meticulously restored interiors provide a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of a prominent Straits Chinese family in the early 20th century. With over 2,000 Peranakan antiques and decorative items on display, visitors can truly appreciate the rich cultural heritage of this unique community. The careful restoration and preservation efforts by the National University of Singapore ensure that NUS Baba House remains an important cultural landmark and a source of pride for the Peranakan community.
Address And Location:
157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883
Tours are conducted five times each week.
Email [email protected] to reserve spaces for the tour.
157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883