Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum: Pioneers & Contributions

Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum: Pioneers & Contributions
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What is the connection between Whampoa and the Singapore Botanic Gardens? The answer to this question and others about the Singapore Botanic Garden’s 154 year history can be found at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum. 

While many families enjoy the open spaces of the Gardens, not many are aware of the historical significance of the Gardens.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum sheds light on the garden’s past.


Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum

Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum


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First opened on 30 Nov 2013, the two-storey, 240 square metre Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum pays tribute to the Singapore Botanic Gardens role in Singapore’s history.

It was recently given a refresh before reopening to the public in June 2023.

The museum is housed in Holttum Hall, itself a URA conservation building, located beside the Botany Centre at the Tanglin Core.

The building was previously the office and laboratory of Professor Eric Holttum, the Garden’s Director from 1925 to 1949.

The Museum is very small but it is also packed with plenty of information on wall panels that cover a variety of topics.

History of the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Its first floor traces the history of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Gardens can trace its roots back to Hoo Ah Kay “Whampoa” who facilitated the acquisition of land for the Agri-Horticultural Society to establish a garden on the site in 1859. 

It highlights the development of the Singapore Botanic Gardens from colonial times to the post-war years and eventually to the verdant grounds we know and love today.

There is a large flower pot from Hoo Ah Kay’s private residence that stands in tribute to the role this Singapore pioneer played in the founding of the Gardens.

Information panels around the first floor room recount the contributions of various important figures in the Singapore Botanic Gardens development. 


Contributions of Singapore Botanic Gardens

Contributions of Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Museum also highlights the Gardens’ role in developing economic crops. 

Under the colonial government in the 1800s, the Singapore Botanic Gardens was viewed as a satellite of London’s Kew Gardens. In fact, many of the Garden’s directors where Kew-trained men.

As part of the colonial machinery, the Gardens was expected to conduct research into crops that could enrich the Empire – hence, there was focus on cash crops such as rubber, coffee and cocoa.

Second floor of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum

The second floor of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum is devoted to the Gardens’ post-war and present developments. 

In the middle of the second floor room is a large interactive “table-top” map of the Botanic Gardens. Spinning a dial on the table-top, it is possible to trace the development and growth of the Singapore Botanic Gardens from the 1800s to present day.

A section also highlights the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ inscription as a World UNESCO Heritage Site in 2015. 


CDL Green Gallery

If you are visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum, you can also pay a visit to the CDL Green Gallery in the eco-building opposite the museum. 

The CDL Green Gallery is currently exhibiting Melting Ice, Sinking Cities: An Urgency to Change the Present and Save Humanity.

This is the third edition of the Climate Action Exhibition series, jointly presented by City Developments Limited, National Parks Board  and Ocean Geographic and will run from now till March 2024.

At the exhibition, visitors are invited to journey to the Antarctic where the effects of climate change have an impact around the globe. 


Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum

Where: Holttum Hall, next the Botany Centre at Tanglin Core. Nearest car park is found at the Botany Centre.
Opening Hours: 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Sunday (closed on the last Monday of the month)
Free Admission

If you enjoyed this story, we predict that you will also enjoy this one on the Singapore Botanic Gardens or this one on the National Orchid Garden.


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