Travelling exhibition to showcase history and heritage of the kebaya till May 24

Six kebaya are on display at the exhibition.

Chloe Tham

Published: 5 April 2023, 5:54 PM

A travelling exhibition featuring the kebaya as a form of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) will be held till May 24. The exhibition will relocate to various venues islandwide throughout the three weeks.

Titled Love, Kebaya, it is the latest showcase by the National Heritage Board (NHB).

It is currently located at the National Museum of Singapore until Apr 23. It will then move to the Visitor Services Centre at Gardens by the Bay from Apr 26 to May 14, and finally to the Festive Market at Our Tampines Hub from May 16 to 24.

Across different time periods, the kebaya is worn as casual wear, and at various festive occasions and important rites of passage, or as part of traditional performing arts.

The kebaya usually has a long, fitted and flared silhouette. It comprises multiple components such as a blouse, undergarments, a skirt and a sash. The skirt, known as a sarong, frequently features intricate designs and vibrant colours like floral and geometric patterns.

Across different communities and regions, there is an assortment of kebaya styles. This reflects their adaptations to the different cultures where they are found.


The exhibition covers the community stories behind the traditional costume and showcases designs by craftspersons and practitioners. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


This exhibition follows the recent multinational nomination of the kebaya to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity.

It is part of NHB’s active efforts to engage and involve the community in all stages of the nomination process. 

Community contributed items and photographs will be featured at the exhibition. Visitors can expect to see photographs of the traditional costume worn by women of the Malay, Peranakan and Eurasian communities in Singapore. Six kebaya created by various craftspersons and practitioners will also be on display.


Community contributed photo: Siti Nafsiah Bte Mohmad (right) posing for a photo together with her sisters Siti Saodah Bte Mohamad and Siti Asiah Bte Mohamed in their kebaya in front of their home in the 1960s. PHOTO CREDIT: HASLINDA PUTRI HARUN


The exhibition is free and open daily from 10am to 7pm. It is currently located at The Platform, on the second floor of National Museum of Singapore. Last admissions are at 6:30pm.

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