The Malay Heritage Centre (MHC)
Together with the National Heritage Board, we also manage and organise many programmes and activities at the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) to promote and enhance awareness of our Malay heritage. Housed within the former royal palace and strategically located within the historic port town and conservation district of Kampong Gelam, the MHC also known as the Istana Kampong Gelam is in itself a repository of objects and stories representing more than 700 years of our history. It also stands proud as a testament to Singapore’s rich and diverse heritage. The Istana Kampong Gelam has been gazetted as a National Monument in 2015.
Since its revamp and redevelopment in September 2012, it has become one of the must-go-to destinations for more than 4.6 million Singaporeans from all ages and walks of life, permanent residents and new citizens, as well as visitors from around the world. Working in collaboration with several partners, MHC showcases various programmes and activities all year round, ranging from a specially curated Heritage Hunt in and around the historic Kampong Gelam precinct for the young during the annual Childrens’ Season, monthly cultural performances on the streets of Kampong Gelam to public talks, interactive cultural demonstrations, free movie screenings, and local and regional performances showcasing both traditional and contemporary art practices during the annual Malay CultureFest. Some of these partners included our youth from Assumption English School, Bedok Green Secondary School, ITE College West, Macpherson Secondary School and Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah. In addition to that, our senior and pioneer generation citizens from AWWA Welfare Home, Jamiyah Home for the Aged and Peace Connect were also invited as special guests at some of these programmes. In addition to promoting greater understanding and appreciation of our Malay heritage, it also facilitated community bonding and integration of our diverse, multicultural society.
MHC also collaborates with the community to present the rich diversity of the Malay community through a series of co-curated SeNusantara exhibition series. To date, this exhibition series have featured the contributions of the Baweanese, Javanese, Minangs and Bugis community to Singapore’s history and development. An exhibition featuring the Banjar community in Singapore is scheduled in late 2020. These exhibitions have been well received by the community. For example, more than 85,000 people visited the exhibition on the Bugis community in Singapore.
Over and above that, MHC also showcased Special Exhibitions based on the four rotating themes of bahasa (language), adat (customs), nilai (values) and bangsa (identity). This allows the curatorial team to explore deeper various aspects of the Malay cultural heritage, how it has evolved from the past and developed in current context. A multi-disciplinary approach is sometimes taken, combining traditional methods of displaying artefacts with modern and contemporary visual arts representation and digital enhancements (wherever possible) in order to bring about a more sensory museum-going experience and connect to new and wide range of audience profiles.