5 May 2018 - 24 Mar 2019

Daily, 10am to 7pm | Fridays, 10am to 9pm

+65 6332 7591

Ticketing charges apply

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Getting Here

10 minute walk from City Hall or Bras Basah MRT Station

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Amek Gambar Highlights

Young Man with a Camera

Young Man with a Camera

Photographer: unknown
Straits Settlements or Indonesia, around 1920s
Silver gelatin print
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee

The first camera that used a roll of film, the Kodak, was invented by the American George Eastman in 1888. It was revolutionary for being both easily portable, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. This democratic form of picture-making heralded a new age of the amateur photographer.

This snapshot taken with a film camera of a Baba in chic tropical style – a drill cotton closed coat (baju tutop) and fedora – and holding a camera epitomises the excitement of modernity among young urbanites, including Peranakans, in Singapore and other modern Asian port cities.

Tan Kim Ching and Family

Tan Kim Ching and family

Fedor Jagor (1816–1900)
Singapore, 1857–58
Albumen stereoview print
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee

Fedor Jagor, a German ethnologist, naturalist, and photographer, travelled in Southeast Asia in the late 1850s. In 1857 and 1858 he took many photographs of Singapore and its people. While here he met prominent Peranakan tycoon Tan Kim Ching. In the late 1860s, Jagor’s stereoview photographs of Singapore were published in Berlin.

Stereoviews were popular in the 19th century. Two photographs of the same image are taken at slightly different angles and placed side-by-side on a card. When looked at through a binocular viewer, they create an illusion of depth.

A note on the back indicates the photograph was taken in Singapore and that the subject is a rich Chinese merchant from Malacca “who has Malay blood through the women”. Although it does not specifically mention Tan Kim Ching, Jagor singles him out by name in his travelogue published in 1866. He also describes the Peranakan community at length, which altogether strongly suggests that the image is a portrait of Tan and his family.

This stereoview is the oldest photograph on paper in Singapore’s National Collection.

Studio Portrait of a Peranakan Couple

Studio portrait of a Peranakan couple

Keechun Studio
Penang, 1920
Silver gelatin print
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee

Commercial studio photography took off in Singapore and in other towns of Southeast Asia in the early 1860s with the arrival of European photographers. Soon after, many Chinese studios opened, often Cantonese from China or Hong Kong. These were quickly followed by the arrival of Japanese-owned studios.

Peranakans numbered among the first patrons of these commercial studios. They commissioned portraits to memorialise important moments of Peranakan family life. Weddings were particularly popular themes.

Peranakan wedding photography evolved its own aesthetics and conventions. Modern technology was borrowed, but not its cultural influences, thus photography constitutes one remarkable aspect of modernity in otherwise traditional celebrations. From the ways the subjects are dressed and posed, to the choice of the studio settings, studio photography in Asia – despite its static structure – displays a diversity of cultural responses in image making.

In this photograph taken at Keechun Studio, the bride wears Penang-style Peranakan finery, which was a hybrid of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian fashions. The groom is dressed in a rather informal jacket, with a light coloured shirt and tie, and long trousers. Although weddings ostensibly adhered to strict ritual protocol (often to ensure good fortune and fertility) such studio photographs also reveal the inconsistency and unpredictability of visual expression, such as the lack of strict dress codes. Modern photography reveals the paradoxes of Peranakan and Asian life: images that attempt to convey tradition often reveal so many unconventional elements.

Space, time, and memories

Space, time, and memories


Space, time, and memories invite visitors to think about advancements in technology and how we use photography today. Digital photography, with the help of social media, has become one of the most democratic and dramatic forms of human expression.

Why do we take photos? How do we use them? Through photos, what are we trying to say about ourselves, our lives?

We invite contributions from you. Show us your Singapore and your Singaporean life. Send us photos from the family album, or a snapshot taken today with your phone. Together we create Space, time, and memories

Call for Submissions

Send us your favourite photos, following the themes below. And be sure to submit before the deadline! Follow these 3 simple steps:

1. Email your photos (minimum 2MB each, in JPEG format) to NHB_PM_Programmes@nhb.gov.sg

2. In the email, tell us:
a. Your name
b. Title of your photo
c. Date of the photo (optional)
d. Briefly describe your photo (optional, less than 20 words)

3. Include "Amek Gambar" in the subject header of the email so we can find your entry.

Contributors retain copyright to the images they submit, but by submitting, allow the Peranakan Museum to reproduce them in the digital space during the exhibition period. The Peranakan Museum may also use these images in publicity materials on various platforms during the exhibition period.


Faces of Singapore

1 Jul to 31 Aug 2018
Submission deadline: 17 Jun, 11.59pm

If "We are Singapore", then exactly who are we? Send us your best selfie, your most celebratory family photos, or the proudest portrait from your family album. If a picture paints a thousand words, then tell us your Singapore story with your pictures.

Beyond Walls

1 Nov to 31 Dec 2018
Submission deadline: 21 Oct, 11.59pm

Some of the earliest experiments with photography documented landscapes and objects. Nowadays, people take photos of clouds, cats, and coffeeshops as a form of artistic expression or to share with friends. Send us your pictures of favourite areas in Singapore - awaken your inner street photographer, or show us urban and natural landscapes, architectural forms, or private interiors.