Star of the Garuda costume from the Malay Heritage Center’s last exhibition before closing for redesign


SINGAPORE – The Malay Heritage Center (MHC) at Kampong Glam, once a palace open only to Malay royalty, is opening its doors one last time before closing later this year.

Its latest offering: a special exhibition titled Cerita, which means “stories” in Malay, which is the result of more than a year of curatorial efforts.

With the center closed for a renovation that is expected to last at least two years, this will be the last chance for visitors to see what was the seat and historic home of Malay royalty in Singapore more than 180 years ago.

The exhibition opens on January 28 and will run until July 31. It is open to the public and free.

On Thursday (January 20), MHC unveiled a Garuda costume – a part-bird, part-man war vehicle in Malay folklore. With a wingspan of 3.4m, it is easily the star of the new exhibit.

The mythical bird costume brought from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is among more than 80 items from the national collection or borrowed from lenders meant to spark conversations about what it means to be Malay.

“We have juxtaposed historical and contemporary objects, to ensure that there is something for everyone and to make the exhibition more accessible,” said Ms. Asmah Alias, Director General of the MHC.

“We want people to come and share stories about the objects with each other, to take part in the ongoing conversation about Malay identity. Unlike our previous exhibitions which focused on Malay sub-communities, this one this brings them all together in a new way.”

True to its mission to offer something to everyone, the exhibition does not have much as a unifying theme, but addresses arts and culture, history, gastronomy, sport and everyday objects. .

Everyday items such as gasing – a traditional Malay spinning top – are displayed in showcases. But visitors will also be able to admire a ceremonial circumcision chair and an intricately carved botekan – a terraced structure used by the wealthy to store spices and medicines.

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