Chinatown Heritage Centre closed indefinitely, STB taking over management

Chinatown Heritage Centre was part of a network of privately run - and ticketed - museums here PHOTO: CHINATOWN HERITAGE CENTRE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Chinatown Heritage Centre, initially set to open in April this year after eight months of renovations, will remain closed indefinitely for a review of its operating model.

A Singapore Tourism Board (STB) statement on Monday (April 26) said the authority is taking over management of the centre from current operator Chinatown Heritage Centre Private Limited, a consortium of Singapore River Cruise, Journeys and Splash Entertainment.

It said the decision was mutual, prompted by Covid-19 and the prolonged restrictions on international travel. Tickets to the centre, which comprises restored shophouses in Pagoda Street, had gone for $18 in March last year.

Chinatown Heritage Centre was part of a network of privately run - and ticketed - museums here that form a veritable network apart from public galleries that are free-of-charge for residents.

This private network includes attractions such as the Intan, where visitors can experience Peranakan culture and the Mint Museum of Toys in Seah Street.

Ms Lim Shoo Ling, STB director of arts and cultural precincts, said: "Over the past six years, Chinatown Heritage Centre Private Limited has worked closely with STB to tell the rich story of Chinatown's evolution and inspire visitors to explore the precinct. Under their care, Chinatown Heritage Centre has grown to become one of Singapore's top-ranked museums.

"We will use this time to review the centre's operating model and will announce future plans in due course."

First opened in 2002, the centre had been revamped in 2014 to rectify maintenance issues and upgrade its showcases, reopening in 2016 with a distinctly stronger online presence and multimedia approach.

Highlights had included an animated light show where a model junk boat carrying Chinese immigrants lurches through perilous waves to get to Singapore, and olfactory displays of opium, traditional Chinese medicine and spices.

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