Modern Colony

  • Level 2, Modern Colony Gallery
  • Daily 10am – 7pm; Last admission at 6.30pm
  • Free admission for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and visitors aged 6 years and below

Migrants from China, who arrived in Singapore in the 1920s, often described it as modern and developed. By the end of the 19th century, Singapore was already a global city brought about by an influx of people, ideas and goods from Asia and Europe. The island was progressing as a major port city, aided by its strategic location and breakthroughs in maritime communications. The industrialisation of the West introduced new ideas, technologies and cultures which were quickly adapted and expressed in unique ways by the people of Singapore.

Set in a 1920s black-and-white bungalow, this gallery explores the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore as a British Crown colony from the 1920s to 1930s, through an examination of the everyday lives of the affluent Straits-born and migrant Chinese. Singapore’s progressiveness was perhaps most evident in the evolution of women’s identity and their enhanced social status during this period.

With more educational opportunities for girls and the influx of female immigrants from China in the 1920s, women began to occupy more visible public roles previously dominated by men. Some of these women went on to make important contributions in a number of women’s causes, such as education and charity, which helped to enhance the welfare of women at the time. The gallery also examines how the women of the household expressed their modern identities and the challenges they faced in working out their roles in an increasingly cosmopolitan Singapore.

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Image: © National Museum of Singapore.

*Modern Colony will be closed for scheduled maintenance on 16 November 2016 and will reopen on 17 November 2016. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.


Exhibition Programmes
Author: National Museum of Singapore
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2016