The IHC’s permanent galleries (located at levels 4 and 3) feature five themes which are arranged chronologically to span 1st century CE to the 21st century. The galleries present, through artefact and interactive displays, the history of interactions between South and Southeast Asia, depict the experiences of the Indian community in both Singapore and Malaya during the colonial period, and highlight the contributions of the Indian and South Asian communities to Singapore’s nation-building efforts.
EARLY CONTACT: INTERACTIONS BETWEEN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA
1st century CE to 19th century
The first gallery explores the early contact between South and Southeast Asia and showcases the evidence of such interactions through the tangible and intangible heritage of the two regions. More specifically, it examines the religious connections (Hindu-Buddhist, Islamic and Christian) and the trade interactions between South and Southeast Asia vis-à-vis Singapore as a bustling hub of 19th century maritime trade.
ROOTS AND ROUTES: ORIGINS AND MIGRATION
19th to 21st centuries
Indians in Singapore and Southeast Asia trace their origins to numerous waves of migration – pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. A complex history of migration from the South Asian subcontinent has produced a vibrant and dynamic community, made distinct by their ability to adapt and to integrate with local cultures. The “Roots” section of this gallery highlights their rites of passage, attire, language, religious affiliations and festivals while the “Routes” section revisits the gruelling journeys undertaken by migrants from their villages, cities and port towns, by ship to Singapore.
PIONEERS: EARLY INDIANS IN SINGAPORE AND MALAYA
19th to mid-20th century
The third gallery introduces the early Indian pioneers who arrived in Singapore and Malaya as well as their trades and businesses. It highlights the role of Indians such as prisoners and builders, moneylenders and private financiers, police and civil servants, traders and professionals etc. In addition, the gallery showcases the history and contributions of pioneering institutions including early Tamil schools, media establishments, religious monuments and social organisations.
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL AWAKENING OF INDIANS IN SINGAPORE AND MALAYA
The fourth gallery examines the impact of anti-colonial and nationalist movements in India on the Indian community in Singapore and Malaya. It also explores the impact of World War II on the local Indian community as well as the growth of social reform movements in both Singapore and Malaya.
MAKING OF THE NATION: CONTRIBUTIONS OF INDIANS IN SINGAPORE
Late 1950s – Present
The final gallery showcases the contributions of the Indian community in Singapore to the country’s nation-building efforts across diverse fields and occupations. It situates the Indian community within multi-cultural Singapore and highlights how the community continues to play an important role in shaping Singapore’s future.