A Peranakan Treasure Museum, Photos News & Top Stories


Katong, home to some good Peranakan restaurants, is also where Katong’s ancient house is located.

The private museum, located in a two-story boutique in the area, houses 100 years of Peranakan history, with antiques dating back to the 1800s.

Brightly painted tingkats (enamel tiffin bearers) and enamel trays occupy an elevated position in the kitchen where foods like belachan sambal, kuehs, chap chye, and ayam buak keluak were regularly prepared. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Two old canvas lanterns soaked in glue hang among the lampshades of the Katong Antique House. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The artifacts are so popular with visitors that some would travel to Singapore to ask if they could buy them.

Ms Angeline Kong, 54, a volunteer who also helps run the museum, said: ‘A lot of people have asked us if we are selling things here … but no, we are not selling anything at the moment as the intention is to pass on the culture and be able to share their stories, which is Uncle Peter’s wish. “

Uncle Peter is the late Peter Wee, a fourth generation Peranakan who founded the museum.

He was passionate about preserving Peranakan heritage and culture among the younger generations. The Peranakans are the descendants of immigrant traders who married local women and settled in settlements in the British-controlled straits of Singapore, Penang and Malacca, as well as in Indonesia and Phuket.

A photograph of the late Peter Wee, founder of Katong Antique House, with his mother. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Mr. Wee has spent over 40 years amassing the valuable collection of antiques that can be found today at Katong Antique House.

Its rooms are filled with heirloom items and items like intricately beaded slippers, colorful enamel tiffin racks, and ornate wardrobes and chairs.

Colorful chamber pots and images of old Babas (Peranakan males) and Nyonyas (Peranakan females) line the staircase on the right wall in the second room. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Wooden divinatory moon blocks, Chinese fortune sticks, mortars and pestles are kept in wooden display cases in the second room. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Mr. Wee, a descendant of philanthropist Tan Keong Saik, inherited the East Coast Road store from his maternal grandfather in 1966 and transformed it into the Katong Antique House in 1979.

He died in 2018, at the age of 71.

The new caretakers of the museum are Mr. Eric Ang, 60, a former assistant to Mr. Wee, and Ms. Kong, who was a close friend of Mr. Wee.

Guardians of the Ancient House Angeline Kong and Eric Ang in the First Hall with a collection of kasut manek (beaded shoes) which is a shining example of what skilled Nyonya can accomplish. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A collection of kasut manek (beaded shoes) which is a shining example of what skilled nyonyas can accomplish. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Mr. Eric Ang arranging the antique wooden chairs in the upper gallery of the Katong Antique House. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Both share the late founder’s goal of preserving the stories and memories of Peranakan culture, so they maintain the private museum and organize tours by appointment. Admission is $ 15.

Ms Kong says: “Friends have come, visitors have come, until Covid-19 arrived. We took the opportunity to renovate the place, which has not been renovated for almost 40 years.”

Plastering in progress on the ceilings of the upper floors to repair defects that had not been rectified for over 40 years. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A worker welds the metal structures on the upper floor of the gallery room. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Mr. Alvin Mark Tan, traditional oil painter and urban designer, puts the finishing touches on a mural of a Nonya Kueh Chang Hawker in the back alley of Katong Antique House. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

They redid the wiring and lighting, resurfaced the walls and reorganized the museum to make it more accessible to the public.

Mr. Ang cleaned up the museum and sorted some pieces from Mr. Wee’s collection that were previously kept in cupboards, so that they could be displayed to the public.

An antique Peranakan silver belt, purse, and mini amulet tube container pendant for children are said to have been passed down to the next generation as a family heirloom. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The finely embroidered peony flowers are a testament to the importance of mastering from an early age the skill of decorating a piece of fabric with a needle and thread. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The museum reopened in May after nine months of renovation.

Ms. Kong, who is Peranakan, said of the mission, “We want to keep the legacy alive.”

Cherki, a popular 60-card game in the past, would bring Nyonyas together to play the game, chat, and chew sireh (betel leaf). ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The Nyonya beaded embroidery on display are handcrafted forms specifically associated with the Peranakan community. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

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