Published/Last edited or updated: 21st September, 2017
Despite its somewhat out of the way location, the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is a fabulously presented and diverse museum well worth the half-day of your time you’ll probably need to get the most out of it. The museum dates back to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles’ times and is located within the grounds of the National University of Singapore. It’s part public display, part research centre, part academic resource — and most definitely part tourist attraction.
The main gallery is a split-level affair and it hosts the star attraction: three enormous floodlit dinosaur skeletons, which are alone worth the admission fee. As with life on earth though, the gallery commences at a far smaller scale, with fungi, molluscs and other sea-borne critters on display, before progressing through amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
The showcasing throughout is excellent. The gallery is quite lowly lit and the exhibits are in large glass windowed displays, all with very clear captioning. Some are pinned to walls, others in glass display tubes and so on. The bigger the subjects, the better the presentations. We especially liked the eggs — including a baby croc busting out of one — and the crabs. There’s also a number of audio-visual displays, but the static displays generally steal the show.
The upstairs section covers modern-day dinosaurs: birds. Some of the feathered beauties are showing their age, but given some were retrieved from private collections that perhaps were not up to great standards, the collection is impressive. There is also a tiger skin and a brief, sad, story of the Singapore tiger. The last one was shot in the early 1930s, far from their heady days in 1843 when tigers reportedly killed more than 300 people in Singapore.
It’s from this upper gallery that the best views of the dinosaur skeletons can be enjoyed. Nicknamed “Apollonia”, “Prince” and “Twinky”, the three diplodocid sauropods were unearthed in a quarry in the United States between 2007 and 2010. They are noteworthy for being about 80% complete and include their skulls. They’re also huge.
While the museum will appeal to all ages, children in particular should find it very enjoyable. You could possibly combine a visit here to Jurong Bird Park which would allow you to see modern dinosaurs in the flesh as well.
Tickets can be bought on arrival. There is however an admission quota so that the museum doesn’t get too crowded so they encourage visitors to book in advance, which can be done through their website. We did just show up and had no problems.
Getting to the museum is a little bit complicated. The two closest SMRT stations are Clementi and Kent Ridge, but both are still a bus ride from the museum itself. From downtown, we took an SMRT to Clementi and then caught a bus which dropped us right out front.
Address: Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, 2 Conservatory Drive
T: 6601 3333;
Coordinates (for GPS): 103º46'25.05" E, 1º18'5.13" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Adult $21, 3-12 $13
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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