Singapore's Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum houses an impressive collection of natural history specimens, including the fossil skeletons of three sauropod dinosaurs, that are sure to wow both kids and adults.
We have always wanted to visit the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) when it opened a few years ago but never got to it since the location wasn't very centralised, and I wasn't sure if my kids would appreciate it at their young age.
But because of the recent rainy weather, I was searching for somewhere indoors and that wouldn't be entirely booked out the day before we visit (I'm always quite last minute when it comes to visiting attractions!) to take our kids to and LKCNHM came to mind. It also helped that my kids were most enthusiastic when I showed them pictures of the dinosaur fossils at the museum.
After our visit, I must say I'm really impressed by the LKCNHM! We spent two hours very amazed by the impressive exhibits while learning about natural history. I think it also helps that my kids at eight- and ten-years-old were intrigued by the exhibits and took the time to read and learn about them.
The museum showcases over 2,000 natural history specimens ranging from dinosaurs to mammals to birds to reptiles to insects in various zones, and here are six we particularly love:
1) Dinosaur zone
You've probably seen these in pictures - the three sauropod fossil skeletons that are the star attractions at the museum.
The skeletons are really something to see in person, and much more impressive as compared to seeing in pictures.
I love how intermittently the lighting over the fossils would change and there would be dinosaurs roaring in the background. Really adds to the atmosphere!
There are also two pterosaur skeletons on display.
Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of time gawking at these and reading about them. Did you know the real sauropod fossil skeletons on display are about 80% complete, making them rare and scientifically valuable?
2) Mammals zone
The Mammal zone houses the skeleton of a 10.6-metre sperm whale which was found dead off Jurong Island in 2015.
Here, you'll also see specimens of a wide variety of mammals including tigers, orang utans...
...an elephant skull...
...and even skeletons of a dugong...
It did feel a little surreal to see the specimens of these animals frozen in time.
3) Reptiles zone
In the Reptiles zone, you'll see 'Kaiser', an estuarine crocodile that was raised in captivity and died in 2007 at around 40 years old. He was later donated to the museum.
It was also very interesting to read how these animals were preserved, like in the case of 'Kaiser', it was initially preserved and stuffed with fabric off-cuts weighing almost one tonne, but in 2018, 'Kaiser' was restored and re-stuffed with lightweight foam and now weighs 120 kg. The skin was also colour-matched towards living specimens for accurate representation, and to prevent fading over time. Interesting, right?
Over here you'll also see specimens of various kinds of snakes. The King Cobra here was actually found in 2002 at the Singapore Country Club! My girls said the snakes looked scary but of course, they still spent time reading about and inspecting them!
4) Arthropod zone
An arthropod is an invertebrate animal that has an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. So in this zone, you'll get to see specimens of insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans.
I'm amazed at the wide array of specimens here! We were trying to identify some of the common insects we often see like the ants, bees and flies. There were even cockroaches! Honestly, I couldn't help feeling a little itchy looking at all the insects. Yeah, I'm quite squeamish when it comes to creepy crawlies!
5) Birds zone
It definitely felt surreal here looking at the preserved bodies of various birds...
...some of which we've seen before outdoors like the Asian Koel, hornbills and vented bulbuls, only this time we could scrutinise them up-close!
6) Marine Cycles and Fish zones
Here you'll get to see all kinds of marine life including specimens of fish, crabs, lobsters, starfish and corals.
Here are some other important stuff to know before visiting:
- How much does tickets cost?
You can buy tickets at the door but given there is a capacity limit of 220 due to COVID-19, you're advised to purchase tickets online before heading down to the museum. You can do so at SISTIC where tickets for Singapore residents are at $15 for adults and $8 for children 3-12 years old, senior citizens, full-time NSF and students (with proof of student card). For non-Singapore residents, they are at $20 for adults and $12 for children, senior citizens and students. Note that there is a $1 per ticket booking charge at SISTIC.
There is a 10% discount for Safra members but I don't see this option at SISTIC. So it might be only available if you purchase at the door. The museum actually didn't look crowded at all when we were there on a Saturday afternoon, so if you really want that discount, you can opt to take the risk by purchasing tickets at the door.
Just a note that I had checked the ticket prices at Klook before buying at SISTIC as I wanted to see if I could use our SRV (no, you can't). I was surprised to see tickets cost $16 at Klook for Singapore residents (for adults and children). It might be more expensive as it's an open-dated ticket (at SISTIC, you have to choose your visiting date) but I think given the cost-savings, it is still better to choose a date and book at SISTIC, especially since it's indoors and you don't have to cancel plans to visit even if it rains. We also bought the tickets on the day when we were visiting, and they were still available. So if you're afraid you might have some last minute plan changes, you can always book closer to the date you're visiting.
- Is it suitable for young children?
I'm actually quite glad that we visited the museum when our kids are at the primary school-going age. I think the kids have a better appreciation of the exhibits and were more inclined to read about them especially since they are now learning Science in school. That is as compared to when they are younger, and more likely to rush to see one exhibit after another without a real appreciation of the exhibits and what they are about. That said, we saw some younger children during our visit that look about the pre-school-age and they too seemed intrigued by the specimens.
- Where is it located?
The LKCNHM is located at 2 Conservatory Drive, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117377. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays,10am to 6pm with last admission at 4:30pm.
- Is parking available?
Parking is available at LKCNHM car park (NUS Car Park 3A) and the covered car park at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (NUS Car Park 3). The former car park is outdoors but right next to the museum. The good thing is the walkway to the museum is sheltered, so I'd say the former car park is most convenient.
Have you visited any interesting attractions recently or during the school holidays? If so, do share them with us!
Disclaimer: We paid for our tickets, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.