‘Mini-museums’ tell stories of old-time shops in Kampong Glam
Seven new "mini-museums" are popping up in the Kampong Glam area in front of shops that are notable for their distinctive history and practices.
Whether visitors are in the area for a meal or a leisurely stroll, they might come across small cabinets of condensed heritage, within which items such as a 40-year-old pair of scissors or a page of a perfumer's notebook are exhibited.
These collaborations with selected shop owners are part of the National Heritage Board's (NHB) efforts to tell the stories of local shops with at least three decades of history, which are often family-run. They were launched yesterday.
The NHB said by next year, "mini-museums" will be co-curated with shop owners in five precincts, raising awareness of these neighbourhood gems that often fall by the wayside of grander national narratives.
The seven "mini-museums" launched in Kampong Glam include four food and beverage businesses - Bhai Sarbat Singapore, Rumah Makan Minang, Sabar Menanti Nasi Padang and Warong Nasi Pariaman.
The four have a loyal following for their heirloom - and sometimes secret - recipes.
The current owner of Bhai Sarbat, Mr Mohammad Asgar, 52, for instance, has a distinctive fast "tarik" ("pull" in Malay) for his teh sarabat (ginger tea) and teh tarik.
Among the artefacts exhibited in his cabinet is a photo of a teh tarik he made with a full head of froth, a feat that requires much skill and practice.
Rumah Makan Minang sells beef rendang in a drier, caramelised style that is faithful to the cooking style in Sungai Limau, West Sumatra, where owner Zulbaidah Marlian's mother was born.
The shop's "museum" features various ladles used to scoop coconut milk after its separation process from grated coconuts, dishes and rice.
Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's deputy chief executive of policy and community, said he hopes the "mini-museums" create unexpected heritage encounters for the public.
The curators and researchers worked with this group of shop owners since last year, and the participatory approach should help younger owners know more about and feel a greater sense of ownership of their trade.