A community heritage gallery opening up in the heartlands of Singapore, bringing history, heritage, culture, conservation, preservation, learning and an all important intangible cultural heritage closer to the public. Introducing Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, this is National Heritage Board’s (NHB) first community gallery that focuses on intangible cultural heritage.

This first NHB community gallery at Kreta Ayer Community Centre showcase the rich history of Chinatown and Kreta Ayer areas, where the early Chinese immigrants first settled down, bringing with them Chinese opera troupes, art and music that formed part of the community in the Kreta Ayer and Chinatown areas.

Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery was officially opened to the public on 14th July 2019, I had the opportunity to visit and had a preview of NHB first community gallery. Upon entering into the community gallery, although it’s not a big gallery space as compared to the big museums out there, they are packed with rich intangible cultural heritage on display inside there, from photographs, objects and personal collections of intangible cultural heritage practitioners.

What is intangible cultural heritage (ICH) all about?

Intangible cultural heritage is defined as cultural practices and living traditions, reflecting cultural diversity, cultural expression, providing a sense of belonging to the communities. Before you start touring Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, I strongly encourage you to read on “What is intangible cultural heritage?” on the display panel inside before you enter into the gallery grounds.

For more details and explaination, you can also visit UNESCO website on ICH and read up more about ICH.

What are the rich intangible cultural heritage that you can discover inside Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery?

Chinese Opera

Chinese opera used to be a very popular form of local live entertainment for the Chinese community in Singapore. How many of us know that there are Cantonese opera, Teochew opera and Hokkien opera? Do you know that Singapore used to be a thriving place for Chinese opera between the late 1800s and 1930s?

Take a walk down this memory lane of Chinese opera, learn more about this performing art form that the forefathers of Singapore enjoyed that much during its heydays.

Chinese Puppetry

With the rise of Chinese opera, came along Chinese puppetry. While this traditional performing art may not grab the headlines like their fellow counterpart, the Chinese opera, they also have a place in our intangible cultural heritage of Singapore.

Have a go at the Chinese puppetry stage, go behind it and try out a Chinese puppetry performance!

Nanyin music

An ancient musical art form, with its roots from China, that spread over to Southeast Asia and beyond. Nanyin, music of the south, this ancient musical art form is best to experience them for yourself by attending their musical performance.

Have a go at some of the musical instruments on display there!

Chinese painting and calligraphy

The art of Chinese calligraphy played an important role in the early days of Singapore’s history for the Chinese community. The calligraphers were the key people to help the Chinese workers at that time to write down letters to be sent back to their family back in China.

Tea drinking and appreciation

A cosy corner, ideal for tea drinking and appreciation. For those who love Chinese tea, this is the place for you, to learn more about the history, beginnings of Chinese tea industry in Singapore and how it had evolved over the decades.

This would also be the place for future tea drinking and appreciation sessions! Keep a lookout!

The Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery doesn’t have a big floor space as compared to the museums that you have visited in Singapore. That doesn’t make them less significant or otherwise. This gallery brings heritage, history, culture, conservation and preservation, closer into the local community with opportunities to connect local performing arts troupes and the community on a regular basis. Some of the artefacts on display were personal effects of local artistes and performing troupes, priceless and invaluable. They are on loan for display at the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, a real eye opener, filled with many stories and memories.

This is also an interactive heritage gallery, whereby visitors can try and get a hands on with such as Chinese puppetry, traditional Chinese musical instruments and calligraphy writing. More photographs of the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery can be viewed here in my Flickr photo album!

Do keep a lookout for updates on Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery calendar of events and activities that you can sign up and participate in! I highly encourage you to visit Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, explore this community heritage gallery and connect with the rich intangible cultural heritage, from perfoming artists, artefacts and memorabilia, present inside this heritage gallery!

I would like to thank National Heritage Board for the invitation to visit Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery for a preview visit.

Information on Kerta Ayer Heritage Gallery

Location: Kreta Ayer Community Club

Address: 28 Kreta Ayer Road Singapore 088995

Opening hours: 12pm to 8pm daily, closed on Mondays and public holidays.

Admission: Free


#kretaayerheritagegallery #KAHG #ichsg #KAgallery

Created with flickr slideshow.


  1. Hi, how do we reserve a room at the community club for discussion?

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