The Intan is a one-of-a-kind boutique museum with over 5,000 Peranakan artifacts, a unique culture that came to be in the 15th century in Southeast Asia. In a relatively young Singapore, which became an independent sovereign country in 1965, this is quite a rare treat. The Intan is also nestled in the charming precinct of Joo Chiat which has been designated as Singapore’s first Heritage Town by the government.
The Intan’s curator and owner, Alvin Yapp, lives in the museum. All the artifacts and antiques, including the exquisite material culture of the Peranakans like the beaded shoes and tiffin carriers, are part of Yapp’s personal collection.
Unlike regular museums where visitors appreciate exhibits through audio guides or write-ups, and perhaps the occasional docents, all visitors to the Intan get personal tour from Yapp. An affable and interesting personality, he offers his guests quite a good dose of the Peranakan culture through his encounters and stories, often peppered with good humor and great insights. Every visit to the Intan comes with delightful Peranakan cakes and specially brewed tea. If you’re lucky, and time allows, Yapp might play a song or two on the piano.
Visitors who want a more customized experience can arrange for hands-on learning of beading, coloring of tiles, appreciation of the beautiful Peranakan jewelry, or even a wellness program involving a sound bath.
It is a highly immersive experience where you can learn about a unique culture and experience the charming hospitality of a local in his house.
Know Before You Go
Visit to the Intan is by appointment as the owner needs to make necessary arrangements (eg. tea preparation) to host visitors/guests. This can be easily done online via the museum website.
The Intan is easily accessible by public or private transport.