New year new me for two of our local gems

What with the advent of e-mail and instant messaging, it may seem like letters and stamps are a thing of the past. But the colourful world of these tiny squares of paper remain ever so vibrant and full of possibilities, even as the Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) closes for redevelopment from Mar 18.

Formerly housing the Anglo Chinese School, the double-storeyed colonial building on 23B Coleman Street has opened its doors to avid stamp collectors far and wide since 1995. The first philatelic museum in Southeast Asia, it has long since used stamps as windows to local heritage and culture, as well as connections to the world. The century-old building will receive infrastructural upgrades, and revamps to both permanent and changing galleries, breathing new life into the cause of philately in Singapore.

Don’t get your stamps in a jumble though, for it still isn’t too late to visit SPM in its current colonial-era glory. SPM will be organising three Open Houses before its closure, including special programmes in time for the Lunar New Year festivities on Feb 6. They’re free admission events, so you might want to grab a fellow nerd and take a peek (if you haven’t before!) into the diverse history of stamps. If you have yet to check out well-loved The Little Prince exhibition, your last chance comes on Mar 10 and Mar 17. Re-opening in end 2020, you’ll still be able to mark your calendars for signature events like the annual National Stamp Collecting Competition and Draw My Stamp Story Art Competition.

Local history buffs will also have to temporarily halt their geeky expeditions to The Peranakan Museum, as it too closes for redevelopment from Apr 1. Recognised for the regal white arches of its fluted columns and colonial-style balconies, the building housing the Peranakan Museum has itself undergone several transformations; previously the school grounds of Tao Nan School, and the Asian Civilisations Museum after. Now home to one of the finest and most comprehensive public collections of Peranakan objects, locals and tourists alike have stepped in and immersed themselves in this vibrant hybrid culture since 2008. Having stood there for 70 years, the Peranakan Museum will close temporarily for redevelopment, and a complete revamp of all permanent galleries will be underway starting Apr 1, through to mid-2021.

What better way to celebrate this turning point in history than with a party? For waves of nostalgia and a step into the illustrious Peranakan past, slip on your kasut manek and join in on their Armenian Street Party happening Mar 15-16, as part of the annual Singapore Heritage Festival. As the Peranakan Museum enters a new phase, its history will not be forgotten—head over to the Peranakan Gallery at Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 for their rotational exhibits, or check out the pop-up exhibitions at your nearest National Library branch.

As these important establishments undergo a facelift, this marks an opportune time to commerate all that's come before even as we take stock of our history in time for the Singapore Bicentennial.