The first week of April saw the unveiling of three new galleries at the Asian Civilisations Museum’s (ACM) third floor, which explores the best of Asian art and craftsmanship via the lenses of fashion, textiles and jewellery.
“The process of perfecting the ACM as Singapore’s national museum of Asian antiquities and decorative art has been a multi-year journey,” said Mr Kennie Ting, director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum, in a press release. “Fashion and jewellery are markers of community and personal identity whether in historical times, or today. For example, the ways in which individuals from a wide range of communities choose to clothe and adorn themselves are more than just demonstrations of vanity, they are nuanced reflections of identity” he added.
The Fashion and Textile Gallery
At the newly minted Fashion and Textiles gallery, visitors get to discover Asian identities through dress and adornment. The pieces of display will be periodically changed to demonstrate how identities and cross-cultural exchanges are realised through dress.
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First on display is Fashion Revolution: Chinese dress from the late Qing to 1976, featuring 40 glorious examples of Chinese dress, including the rare and incredibly elaborate dragon robes handmade for the emperors to wear on a daily basis. The zhongshan zhuang, also known as the “Mao suit”, will be on display as well. The exhibition chronicles the Chinese’s political, economic and socio-cultural changes over the years via sartorial trends.
The Jewellery Gallery
The Jewellery gallery is the first-of-its-kind in the world to feature island Southeast Asian Jewellery. The exhibition highlights pieces from the Neolithic age to the 20th century, and shows how jewellery—in whatever shape, form or material—has been present at every stage of life and shares a special relationship with its wear, going beyond functionality.
Take for instance this intricate Peacock belt, traditionally worn by wealthy Peranakan women. Peranakan, which literally means Straits-born, is a community whose lineage is typically composed of Malay, Chinese, and sometimes Indian ancestry. The idiosyncratic circumstances that birthed this group of individuals also resulted in unique pieces of jewellery—such as the one shown above—and garments, which further reiterates the museum’s point-of-view that jewellery plays an instrumental role in an individual’s or culture’s identity.
The Ceramics Gallery
The third floor will also be home to the Ceramics gallery, featuring an extensive collection of Chinese ceramic works spanning from the Neolithic period through the Qing dynasty. The stars in this exhibition are the collection of Dehua porcelain pieces, also know as blanc de chine.
Admission to the museum is free for Singaporeans and permanent residents. However, in-line with MOH’s latest guidelines, the museum is currently closed till 4 May. That said, you may soon be able to explore its vast collection in the comfort of your home as the museum is working on bringing their exhibitions to life digitally.
For more information, visit www.nhb.gov.sg/acm