The Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery, located within the Kreta Ayer Community Centre, provides a glimpse into the historic past of Chinatown. Now, you can go on a virtual tour to this community gallery to learn more about the roots of the Kreta Ayer and those who lived there.
Kreta Ayer falls within the boundaries of Chinatown, which were established in 1822, just three years after the British arrived in Singapore. The name Kreta Ayer means “water cart” and is similar to the Chinese name for Chinatown.
With many of the early residents being from Canton, many cultural and traditions also found root in the area. There were Chinese opera houses and traditional teahouses, along with practices such as nanyin music and wushu.
Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery: Chinese Opera, Puppet Theatre & More
The Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery captures and showcases many of these art forms.
For example, elements of Chinese opera are on display. Once a common sight along the streets, Chinese opera has mostly disappeared. The Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery has pictures of the olden days when it used to be performed on the streets.
There are also accounts from those who performed it, as well as displays of the elaborate costumes used.
Another lost art which one can learn about at the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery and on its virtual tour is Chinese Puppet Theatre.
There is a set with Chinese puppets on display. These were once a popular form of street entertainment. Different dialect groups had different forms of puppets.
With Kreta Ayer being a centre for nanyin, which literally means “music of the south”, the community gallery also has a collection traditional Chinese instruments.
Another section of the gallery provides a look into the art of Chinese calligraphy.
Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery Virtual Tour
In the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery virtual tour, you can navigate your way around to these various sections of the museum. There are also information points, with both English and Chinese descriptions, which you can click on to read more about the various art forms and the history of Kreta Ayer.
Go on the Kreta Ayer Heritage Gallery virtual tour here.