It is Singapore newest pride and a welcome addition to Southeast Asia art scene. It took ten years to create and design Singapore National Gallery. The state-of-the-art gallery is hosted in the former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, one of the finest buildings of Singapore colonial era.
The new gallery exhibits the largest collection of Southeast Asian modern art in ASEAN and in the world through its permanent collections and special exhibition. It will also work with leading museums worldwide to co-present Southeast Asian art in a wider context with the ambition of positioning Singapore as a regional and international hub for the visual arts.
The collection comprises over 8,000 works from the 19th and 20th centuries in all media, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and video. It has a dedicated section for Singapore Art, particularly of the Nanyang school, a local art movement which lasted from the 1930s to the early 1970s.
Announced back to 2005, the Art Gallery was built at a considerable cost of US$380 million (S$532 million) and could have “been cheaper and easier to build on a Greenfield site”, as stated by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his opening speech at the end of November. However, the Art Gallery location inside the former City Hall and Supreme Court is also a way for Singapore to acknowledge the legacy of its colonial heritage: “These old buildings in front of the Padang are a treasure,” highlighted Singapore PM. The new structure integrates historical and contemporary architecture including a Roof Garden Gallery which will serve as an outdoor art space offering also exclusive views on Singapore city skyline.
Singapore National Gallery puts the spotlight on Singapore’s arts scene, as the city wants to be also well known as a cultural destination and the true hub of all forms of arts in Southeast Asia. Since the 2000s, Singapore has been working hard to be turned into the heart of ASEAN all forms of arts, multiplying festivals and opening new theatres and museums. Singapore has now 53 museums, including 2015 newest additions: prior to the Singapore National Gallery, the city saw last April the opening of the Singapore branch of the “Pinacothèque de Paris”, a private art museum showing mostly art pieces from the West.
According to Singapore National Arts Council- which managed cultural institutions in the city, total visitorship to national museums and heritage institutions reached 3.2 million in 2013. They were also over 3,000 ticketed performances and close to 5,000 non-ticketed performances during the same year. NAC records 5,486 art and cultural companies and institutions based in Singapore.
Singapore New National Gallery is likely to attract a lot of art lovers from the region and beyond. During the first two weeks, the cultural institution attracted over 170,000 visitors.