National Heritage Board

Singapore Infopedia

by Tan, Lay Yuen


The National Heritage Board (NHB) is a statutory board established on 1 August 1993 under the then Ministry of Information and the Arts.1 Its formation was part of the recommendations of the 1989 Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts. The goal was to make Singapore a gracious and culturally vibrant society. In November 2012, NHB was subsumed under the Ministry of Culture, Communication and Youth.2 It now manages six museums, as well as several community heritage institutions.3

NHB was established through the merger of the National Archives, Oral History Department and the National Museum.4 In 2009, community heritage institutions including the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Malay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre, as well as the Preservation of Monuments Board, also came under NHB’s purview.5

In November 2012, the National Library Board took over the National Archives of Singapore. In July 2013, the Preservation of Monuments Board was renamed the Preservation of Sites and Monuments. In the same year, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) was corporatised to forge greater autonomy in the development and growth of visual arts in Singapore.6

Roles and responsibilities
NHB’s roles encompass safeguarding and promoting the heritage of Singapore’s diverse communities, for the purpose of education, nation-building and cultural understanding.7

In 2017, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced the Heritage Plan for Singapore, a comprehensive and holistic national blueprint that defined the strategies and initiatives for the country’s heritage sector from 2018 to 2022. The plan would allow Singaporeans to enjoy greater accessibility to museums and cultural institutions, as well as support the documentation, research and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. NHB would also partner communities, heritage groups and volunteers to promote Singapore’s heritage. Laws and frameworks to protect archaeological heritage would also be strengthened.8

NHB is formed.
NHB holds first blockbuster exhibition, Alamkara: 5000 Years of India, at the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM).
A total of 14 significant World War II historic site markers are installed.
Single largest artefact donation to NHB is made by visual artist Wu Guanzhong.
SAM opens.

1997: ACM moves to former Tao Nan School at Armenian Street.
National Archives of Singapore moves to Fort Canning Rise.
NHB’s first heritage trail is launched.
Heritage Conservation Centre opens.
Singapore Philatelic Museum joins NHB as a fully owned subsidiary.
Reflections at Bukit Chandu, a World War II interpretative centre, opens.
ACM opens at Empress Place.
Inaugural Singapore HeritageFest is launched.
National Museum of Singapore re-opens after a three-year facelift.
Peranakan Museum opens.
First edition of the Singapore Night Festival is launched.
Community heritage institutions and the Preservation of Monuments Board join NHB.
NHB presents a large-scale exhibition, Baba Bling: The Chinese Peranakans of Singapore, for the first time overseas at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
SAM organises the third Singapore Biennale.

2012: An additional six significant World War II historic site markers are installed.
2013: Up to 100 historic sites have been marked island-wide.
Singapore’s first community museum, Our Museum@Taman Jurong, opens at Taman Jurong.


Tan Lay Yuen

1. Lim Chee Onn heads 16-member heritage board. (1993, July 25). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; National Heritage Board. (2015, October 8). Overview. Retrieved 2017, July 13 from National Heritage Board website:
2. National Heritage Board. (2014). Annual report 2013/2014. Singapore: The Board, pp. 4, 14. (Call no.: RSING 363.690605957 SNHBAR-[AR]); Chew, M. (2012, November 2). First day of work for new MCCY. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. National Heritage Board. (2016, April 15). Museums. Retrieved 2017, July 20 from National Heritage Board website:; National Heritage Board. (2015, July 2). Institutions. Retrieved 2017, July 20 from National Heritage Board website:
4. National Heritage Board. (1995, October). Heritage: A quarterly newsletter of the National Heritage Board, 4. Singapore: The Board, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 069.53 H); National Heritage Board. (2015, July 2). History and milestones. Retrieved 2017, May 14 from National Heritage Board website:; Lim Chee Onn named head of National Heritage Board. (1993, June 25). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. National Heritage Board. (2014). Annual report 2013/2014. Singapore: The Board, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 363.690605957 SNHBAR-[AR])
6. Nanda, A. (2013, December 14). New chapter for library. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; National Heritage Board. (2014). Annual report 2013/2014. Singapore: The Board, pp. 6, 10. (Call no.: RSING 363.690605957 SNHBAR-[AR])
7. National Heritage Board. (2014). Annual report 2013/2014. Singapore: The Board, p. i. (Call no.: RSING 363.690605957 SNHBAR-[AR])
8. National Heritage Board. (2017, March 9). Heritage plan for Singapore. Retrieved 2017, July 4 from National Heritage Board website:
9. National Heritage Board. (2014). Annual report 2013/2014. Singapore: The Board, pp. 4–11. (Call no.: RSING 363.690605957 SNHBAR-[AR])

The information in this article is valid as at 20 July 2017 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

Rights Statement

The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.

More to Explore

Lim Chwee Chian


Lim Chwee Chian (???) (b. 21 January 1868, Haicheng, Fujian, China–d. 12 February 1923, Singapore) was a merchant and philanthropist. He was also a known leader of the Ngee Heng Kongsi, a Chinese secret society, in Singapore. Lim was probably one of the founders of the Ee Hoe Hean Club,...

Tan Chay Yan


Tan Chay Yan (b. December 1871, Malacca–d. 6 March 1916, Malacca), also known as Tan Chay An or Chen Qixian, was the first rubber planter in Malaya. He pioneered an industry that transformed the region’s fortunes, and used his wealth to support causes such as education....

Woolley Report on the state of education, 1870


On 29 December 1869, then Governor Harry Ord appointed a select committee chaired by Colonel R. Woolley to look into the state of education in the Straits Settlements, which comprised Singapore, Melaka and Penang. The resultant “Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council to Enquire into the State...

Eu Tong Sen


Eu Tong Sen (b. 23 July 1877, Penang, Malaya –d. 11 May 1941, Hong Kong ) was a businessman and philanthropist who established his fortune in Malaya, and subsequently Hong Kong and southern China. The foundation of his business empire was established through tin mining and rubber plantations. These later...

Seah Eu Chin


Seah Eu Chin (???; She Youjin) (b. 1805, Guangdong, China–d. 23 September 1883, Singapore) was a wealthy Teochew merchant who made his fortune from the cultivation of pepper and gambier. A prominent member of the Chinese community in early colonial Singapore, Seah is also well known as the founder of...

St Margaret's School


St Margaret’s School is the oldest girls’ school in Singapore. It was founded in 1842 by Maria Dyer of the London Missionary Society, who had sought to provide a home and education for young girls who would otherwise be sold to rich families as domestic servants. The school was originally...



Echigoya was a Japanese fabric store established around 1907 on Middle Road. It was famous for its fine fabrics and garments, and tailoring of Japanese fashionwear. Echigoya closed down following the Japanese surrender in 1945 during World War II. It resumed business in 1955, but closed permanently in 1977....

Oversea Chinese Association


The Oversea Chinese Association (OCA) was established in March 1942 during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45). The association was formed under the direction of the Japanese military administration, with the original intention to mediate between the authorities and the local Chinese community. The Japanese military authorities, however, used the...

National Institute of Education


The National Institute of Education (NIE) is Singapore’s only teacher training institution. In addition to engaging in initial teacher preparation, the NIE also provides continuing education and life-long learning to teachers, and conducts extensive, cutting-edge research in education that enhances NIE programmes. ...

Seah Liang Seah


Seah Liang Seah (b. 1850, Singapore–d. 14 September 1925, Singapore) was a wealthy local-born Chinese merchant who was known for being the Chinese representative on the Straits Settlements Legislative Council. He was a keen proponent of British rule and co-founded the pro-British Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA)....