Chinatown Heritage Centre to stay closed for review of operating model

Chinatown Heritage Centre was initially set to reopen this month after eight months of renovations. The Singapore Tourism Board is taking over management duties from the current operator.
Chinatown Heritage Centre was initially set to reopen this month after eight months of renovations. The Singapore Tourism Board is taking over management duties from the current operator.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Chinatown Heritage Centre, initially set to reopen this month after eight months of renovations, will remain closed indefinitely for a review of its operating model.

A Singapore Tourism Board (STB) statement yesterday said the authority is taking over management of the centre from current operator Chinatown Heritage Centre Pte Ltd, a consortium of Singapore River Cruise, Journeys and Splash Entertainment.

The authority said the decision was mutual, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and prolonged restrictions on international travel.

Tickets to the centre, which is located at restored shophouses in Pagoda Street, were going for $18 in March last year.

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

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

Apart from the Chinatown Heritage Centre, STB also owns Haw Par Villa, currently operated by Journeys.

Ms Lim Shoo Ling, STB director of arts and cultural precincts, said: "Over the past six years, Chinatown Heritage Centre Pte Ltd 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 closed in 2014 for a revamp to rectify maintenance issues and upgrade its showcases, before reopening in 2016 with a distinctly stronger online presence and multimedia approach.

Its highlights included an animated light show of a model junk boat carrying Chinese immigrants lurching through perilous waves to get to Singapore, as well as olfactory displays of opium, traditional Chinese medicine and spices.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2021, with the headline 'Chinatown Heritage Centre to stay closed for review of operating model'. Subscribe