The majestic National Gallery merges two historic buildings into Singapore’s largest arts institution. Step inside and discover a breathtaking collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art.
Earlier this year I wrote about the National Gallery Naked Museum Experience and unfortunately didn’t quite finish the series – the photos on the renewed Supreme Court were never published.
The photos in this entry were taken on 26 November 2015 – the third day it is open to the public – and also the day the special exhibitions opened its doors. I was more interested in the buildings, because it was far too crowded and disruptive to indulge in the art.
There are four exhibitions going on, with the promise of new exhibitions every quarter. After spending three hours at the National Gallery – mostly brisk-walking and capturing the use of space – I admit that I have not seen everything.
Perhaps a good 1/3 of the Museum is still not open (the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery), and some corridors and rooms, but the four exhibitions are adequate for a half-day tour. Here are some highlights from outside the galleries:
The iconic City Hall Chamber, and its mezzanine level, are open for all to enjoy.
For three nights, the Padang field is transformed into an Art Carnival to celebrate the grand opening.
At the top level of City Hall building houses restaurants, bars, a rooftop gallery and studios.
Social Table is an interactive platform for visitors to discover the museum’s artwork through touch displays.
The Rotunda Gallery at the Supreme Court building houses research materials, reading rooms and displays dedicated to the modern art of Southeast Asia. You can say it’s a library, holding materials used by curators to develop the exhibition Between Declarations and Dreams.
UOB Southeast Asia Gallery: Between Declarations & Dreams
Taking place across multiple levels at the former Supreme Court building, Between Declarations & Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century traces the development of modern art in the region. This massive collection of over 400 works is exhibited across 15 galleries of the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery.
The National Gallery has multiple entrances and connections between the two buildings. It can be quite confusing, especially when this exhibition is a retrospective narrative, starting with art from the 19th Century, that is exhibited across three floors. The correct starting point is at Gallery 1 of the UOB Gallery, at the third Level of the Supreme Court. Pick up the gallery map, as it shows the correct route to walk around the Gallery.
Special Exhibitions: Wu Guanzhong and Chua Ek Kay
Two special exhibitions are currently shown at the fourth level of City Hall building, featuring the works of Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong and Singaporean artist Chua Ek Kay.
DBS Singapore Gallery: Siapa Nama Kamu?
The DBS Singapore Gallery opens with the Siapa Nama Kamu (What is your name?) exhibition, showing some 400 works that have influenced art in Singapore.
As part of the opening celebrations, visitors can participate in a performance art inspired by Chua Mia Tee’s National Language Class painting.
You can of course, find iconic works of Liu Kang and Georgette Chen here.
Shifting Grounds, filled with contemporary from the 1980s and beyond, concludes the exhibition. What is, or could be art?
Gallery & Co.
Overlooking the Padang and some parts of Coleman Street, Gallery & Co. is a curated retail experience by & Co.
A very long time ago when I’m still (somewhat) in the design world, I’ve met Yah-Leng Yu and Arthur Chin of Foreign Policy Design, as they were industry mentors at Temasek Design School. It’s cool to see their design signature in a retail space.
There are specially designed products for the museum, including design collectibles and prints. The Plain Vanilla café is also here.
Of course, you can find the Brand Guide: Singapore Edition stocked here. It’s S$58-something. Cheaper than buying from online (S$63) if you’re local, but I’m not sure what’s the retail price at other bookstores.
National Gallery Singapore – Opening Celebrations Special
From 24 Nov – 6 Dec 2015
10:00am to 7:00pm (Monday – Thursday)
10:00am to 11:00pm (Friday – Sunday)
Last admission: 30 minutes before closing time.
Ticketing during Opening Celebrations period (24 Nov – 6 Dec 2015)
Tickets are required for entry into the Gallery buildings. During the Opening Celebrations, admission is free for all visitors. Online ticket booking is not compulsory, but will allow admittance through the priority queue at the Coleman Street entrance. Visitors without tickets will have to enter the gallery from the Padang Atrium.
Otherwise, admission is $20 for adults. A concession rate of $15 is available for children, seniors and full-time students.
Singapore residents enjoy free admission to the galleries, except selected special exhibitions.
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