If you’re visiting Telok Ayer Street, you may notice the Musical Box Museum situated right beside Thian Hock Keng Temple. As a child, it was fascinating to wind the handle of a musical box, especially when the mechanics of its insides were exposed. Every pin that plucked the metal cylinder produced a light note, all of them strung together to complete a tune.
Though the novelty of it has diminished throughout the years, historical resources have shown that Singapore played an integral part in the development of musical boxes in South-east Asia during the 19th and early 20th century and the Singapore Musical Box Museum aims to preserve that.
40 over artefacts at Singapore Musical Box Museum
Situated at 168 Telok Ayer Street, the museum is housed in Thian Hock Keng Temple, a national monument of 1973. The building is coloured a bright blue, so it’ll be hard to be miss.
A musical box is an automatic musical instrument that produces sound when the pins on a revolving cylinder or disc pluck the teeth of a steel comb. According to a Rouen manuscript, the earliest known appearance of the pinned cylinder was around 1321.
The collections mainly hail from Switzerland and Germany, with a few from the United States of America.
After looking at the artefacts, visitors can head down to the Museum Café, a Peranakan cafe with a traditional setting. Upon entering, you’ll notice the authentic Peranakan tiled flooring, all preserved in its original splendour.
The café serves mains such as Sing Ramen (S$11.80), which is ramen or bee hoon with laksa gravy, coconut milk, prawns, tau pok, fish balls and a boiled egg. Other options include the hearty Rendang Chicken (S$13.80) and the classic Babi Pongteh (S$13.80).
Musical Box Museum souvenir shop
And if the visit to Singapore Musical Box Museum has made you nostalgic, you can leave with a souvenir to forever immortalize your visit. From musical teddy bears to dancing ballerinas and jewellery boxes, you’ll be able to find one that calls out to you.
These musical boxes are made by major brands from Switzerland and Japan.