There are few places in Singapore that are as historically rich as Fort Canning Hill, once the seat of the power on the island. Now, visitors to the hill that was can explore its rich history at the Fort Canning Heritage Gallery at Fort Canning Centre.
The Fort Canning Heritage Gallery provides a window into the hill’s 700-year history. This history starts back in the 1300s and carries on through to the present day. The Heritage Gallery also breathes new lift into the Fort Canning Centre, which was once home to the short-lived Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris and, more recently in 2019, hosting the From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience.
In fact, some of the content from the latter event has found a permanent home in the Fort Canning Heritage Gallery’s five zones.
Fort Canning Gallery at Fort Canning Centre
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The Fort Canning Gallery is spread over two levels of the south wing of Fort Canning Centre. It highlights the role which Fort Canning Hill has played in the context of the history of Singapore.
Fort Canning Heritage Gallery: Capturing 700 Years of History
On the ground floor of Fort Canning Centre, visitors to the Fort Canning Heritage Gallery can get an introduction to the 700-year history of the hill. This is presented only a curved wall where significant milestones and years are marked out.
The Seat of Power
Artefacts from the 14th century, excavated from sites around Fort Canning Park, are presented in the next zone of the Gallery. There are also video interviews with Dr John N. Miksic, Dr Goh Geok Yian and volunteers who were involved in the 2018 dig.
A digital, no-touch storybook also helps to set the scene with legendary tales about Singapura.
Becoming a Fort
Besides a handful of colonial buildings and the fortified gate, not that much is visible from the period when the hill was a British military fort. The backstory to the hill’s military service, from 1859 when it started to be fortified to the late 1970s when it was converted into a park, is elucidated in the next zone.
Among the exhibits is an interactive panel which shows the troops movement in the Battle of Singapore.
From being a government base to a recreational space, Fort Canning Hill has played many roles over its long history. The Evolving Landscapes zones captures some of these changes.
Visitors to the Gallery can also explore the evolution of the hill through collections of natural history art and photographs. An exhibit also shows the different fauna that have been found on the hill.
Kids can enjoy a digital interactive colouring panel based on the Heritage Trees found around Fort Canning Park too.
A Place for the People
A space is nothing without people. The Gallery’s final zone provides a look at how Fort Canning Park in the context of modern, post-independence Singapore.
This role includes various arts initiatives which have been held at the hill over the years.
Masterplans from the past show how there has always been an ambition to have a heritage gallery at Fort Canning.
Visitors can view a video from From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience in a mini-theatrette.
They can also pick up a payphone handset from a payphone to listen to interviews with Singaporeans sharing their memories of the Fort Canning Park.
Visiting Fort Canning Heritage Gallery
Fort Canning Heritage Gallery is located at Fort Canning Centre, Levels 2 and 3. It is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on the last Monday of the month).
Admission is free.
When you are done with your visit to Fort Canning Heritage Gallery, step outside and head to the newly-enhanced Fort Canning Spice Garden and Spice Gallery.