Nei Xue Tang

Nei Xue Tang (36)

Nei Xue Tang was the first private museum approved by the Singapore Authorities, thanks to the program House Museum Scheme, which allowed private collectors to open their own homes to display their collections to the general public.

This museum is not only valuable for its content but also for where it is housed.  This building is part of Singapore's architectural heritage. Before entering, admire its beautiful pre- World War II facade, which masterfully combines traditional Chinese and Greco-Roman elements.

Once inside, they say that you will soon experience a feeling of peace, joy and happiness. See for yourself. Here you will learn about Buddhist art, culture, traditions and beliefs as well as about the people in this part of Asia in general. It is for this reason that the museum is called the Nei Xue Tang, which in Chinese means "interior learning room."

The collection consists of over 10,000 unique Buddhist pieces, such as silverware, heirlooms, antiques and artwork. These objects were imported from many different Asian countries including Japan, China, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Laos. Some are simple objects used in everyday life, while others are unique and made out of gold, silver, jade and other precious materials. All these relics belong to Mr. Woon, a lawyer and devout Buddhist, who became an avid collector at an early age.

Like we said, the collection’s main focus is on Southeast Asian Buddhist works, especially from Thailand and Cambodia.  You will notice a fascinating collection of stone and bronze statues. The largest of these are located in the museum’s basement.  

It was Mr Woon himself who gathered all the information about his collection.  He wanted to give the visitors details about the pieces’ style, region of origin and approximate dates. Unlike the West, here individual artists are not nearly as valued as schools or guilds. In other words, often the art works are done by various artists, who serve as artisans.  Also, as these artworks were not intended for a museum they rarely have the signatures or dates needed to identify them.

The exhibit also includes a large and unusual collection of amulets, talismans and Buddhist relics, which play an important role in the daily practice of Buddhism. As you can see, they are major artworks of great value done on a very small scale.

We also want to point out the calligraphy work of the Buddhist Tan Swie Hian done with China ink on rice paper. This renowned artist has won several international prizes and awards. 

For these reasons and many more, the museum has been visited by people from around the world, including diplomats, ambassadors and dignitaries. Among them, the president of Singapore, the Queen and Prince of Bhutan, the late king of Mongolia and many others. In addition, the museum receives periodic visits from Buddhist great masters who come here to study the collection.

After all the VIPs, it is now your turn. Enjoy everything the museum has to offer and discover the values of Buddhism.

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