Singapore celebrates the histories of local businesses with mini museum corners

Stories are what make a place home. And that is exactly what the National Heritage Board  (NHB) seeks to highlight with its new Street Corner Heritage Galleries scheme, which puts the spotlight on nostalgic neighbourhood food spaces of Singapore. 

From Market Stall to Restaurant; Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice has been selling traditional Hainanese chicken rice in the Balestier area since 1953. Photo courtesy: NHB
From Market Stall to Restaurant; Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, one of the featured businesses in the Street Corner Heritage Galleries scheme, has been selling traditional Hainanese chicken rice in the Balestier area since 1953. Photo courtesy: NHB

Behind every business that has stood the test of time lies a treasure trove of stories that we don’t often think of, NHB said in a press statement. These include the struggle of setting up shop; challenges that had to be overcome along the way; or customers who have grown to become friends over the years.

This metal basket was used to store eggs that would be cracked open and added to a piping hot bowl of chicken or pork porridge, which Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice still serves today. Photo courtesy: NHB
This metal basket was used to store eggs that would be cracked open and added to a piping hot bowl of chicken or pork porridge, which Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice still serves today. Photo courtesy: NHB

NHB will work closely with local shop owners with at least 30 years of history in selected precincts to co-create “mini museums". These specially curated spaces will showcase the history and heritage of their respective businesses and trades.

Located on site, these galleries will display historical documents, photographs and artefacts that tell the stories of these shops.

From March 10, Street Corner Heritage Galleries will kick off with five community stakeholders within the Balestier precinct. They  are: Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah, Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Lim Kay Khee Optical and Contact Lens Centre, Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory, and Sweetlands Confectionery and Bakery.

The scheme will subsequently be rolled out in four other precincts – Kampong Gelam, Little India, Kreta Ayer/Chinatown and Geylang Serai – by 2022.

Pastries filled with history; There is always a long queue at Loong Fatt as people line up for its signature tau sar piah, a traditional flaky pastry filled with mung bean (also known as green bean) paste. However, this landmark shop, which is said to be the oldest surviving traditional kopitiam (coffee shop) at Balestier Road, had its beginnings as a Western-style bakery in 1948. Photo courtesy: NHB
Pastries filled with history; There is always a long queue at Loong Fatt as people line up for its signature tau sar piah, a traditional flaky pastry filled with mung bean (also known as green bean) paste. However, this landmark shop, which is said to be the oldest surviving traditional kopitiam (coffee shop) at Balestier Road, had its beginnings as a Western-style bakery in 1948. Photo courtesy: NHB

The scheme involves collaboration between NHB museums, heritage institutions and community galleries, and the Street Corner Heritage Galleries managed by local shop owners in historic precincts.

NHB will be providing funding, curatorial support and assistance in fabricating the showcases. They will also work with local shop owners to develop programmes such as talks, tours and workshops, and give them the opportunity to participate in key NHB events and festivals. 

Alvin Tan, Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Community), NHB said, “Through the scheme, we hope to identify existing heritage resources and perform ‘urban acupuncture’ by introducing small-scale interventions to showcase these resources and in the process, revitalise the precinct through street-level heritage.”

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CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK and Dubai. Connected to India covers developments around Indians abroad, informing, engaging and entertaining its audiences.

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