Miniature exhibit at the Fuk Tak Chi Museum in Singapore

Photo by Joel Chua DY

The Fuk Tak Chi Museum is now part of a sleek boutique hotel’s premises.

But while progress has caught up, the museum hasn’t given up the ghost. If you’re in the vicinity of Far East Square, this quaint little building is worth a visit. Step over its well-preserved threshold, and the hustle-and-bustle of office life disappears, making it a nice spot for quiet contemplation amid the area’s shophouses and office buildings.

A former shrine
An exhibit at the Fuk Tak Chi Museum in Singapore

Photo by Joel Chua DY

The temple was originally a shrine dedicated to the Chinese deity, Tua Pek Kong, who is worshipped by Confucianists and Taoists. Set up between 1820 and 1824 by Cantonese and Hakka immigrants, the shrine was where many Chinese immigrants gave thanks for their safe journey to Singapore.

As donations poured in, the temple was built in brick in 1825. It has been renovated several times, such as the 1869 complete renovation that was financed by Hokkien community leader Cheang Hong Lim.

Restored and redeveloped

The temple later became the headquarters for the Cantonese and Hakka communities, even functioning as welfare associations where disputes were settled.

But by the 1990s, this colourful history had crumbled and the temple was in disrepair. It was handed over to the government and the temple moved to a shrine in Geylang. Craftsmen from China and Malaysia restored it completely and it became a museum in 1998.