Peranakan pop-up exhibition ‘Apa Khabair’ held at ACM from now till May 29

Held at the Asian Civilisations Museum, the exhibition features 17 objects depicting the Peranakan way of life, some of them on display for the first time.

Caleb Lau

Grew up a musician, found a calling in photography and writing. Still in love with all of them.

Published: 25 February 2022, 1:23 PM

Whilst the Peranakan Museum prepares for its reopening next year, a new exhibition in town provides a snippet of what can be expected. 

Titled Apa Khabair? – Peranakan Museum in the Making, the pop-up exhibition at Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) runs from now till May 29. 

Kennie Ting, Director of ACM and the Peranakan Museum, in a press statement on Feb 24, said: “The exhibition title is borrowed from the familiar Baba Malay greeting Apa Khabair?, meaning “What news is there?”, and speaks to the reopening of the Peranakan Museum as something to look forward to during these difficult times.”

The Peranakan Museum was closed in Apr 2019 for major revamping works and is set to reopen in the first half of 2023. 

With the display at ACM, comprising three sections, it seeks to broaden the public’s understanding of the living culture.

The first section begins with collaborative works between ACM, the Peranakan Museum and the Peranakan community. 

Visitors can watch videos from the video series “I Say You Do” and view photos and illustrations from the ongoing cookbook series “Recipes & Stories”.


Both series highlight the significance of living traditions, spanning Arab, Jawi, Indian and Chinese Peranakan cultures. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/@PERANAKAN MUSEUM SINGAPORE, INSTAGRAM/@PERANAKANMUSEUM


In its second section, visitors will encounter a selection of some 17 objects depicting the Peranakan way of life, some of them on display for the first time.

From delicate porcelain vessels to finely crafted heirlooms, the objects unveil the quintessential craftsmanship of the Peranakan aesthetic, with cultural adaptations from the likes of China and the West. 


A ceremonial carriage, used back then for a traditional ceremony called Tedun, and two sireh sets, a common item in Peranakan homes, are on show for the first time. PHOTO CREDIT: ASIAN CIVILISATIONS MUSEUM


Rounding off the experience, the last section takes visitors down memory lane with a historical timeline of the Peranakan Museum’s building.

Originating as Tao Nan primary school, the site at Armenian Street was then transformed into the first home of ACM, and subsequently inhabited by the Peranakan Museum. 


The timeline revisits popular past exhibitions shown at The Peranakan Museum like ‘Nonya Needlework: Embroidery’ and ‘Beadwork in the Peranakan World’. PHOTO CREDIT: ASIAN CIVILISATIONS MUSEUM


Before leaving, visitors can share their personal stories and thoughts on an interactive wall display, to be added later into a compilation of all things Peranakan.

During the exhibition’s run, community sharing sessions and workshops will also be held at ACM, alongside a trail guide specially created for families with children. 

The pop-up is located at ACM’s Contemporary Gallery and is open 10am to 7pm daily, closing later at 9pm on Fridays. Admission is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

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