2015.08.06 Thu, by
National Gallery Singapore to open to the public on 24 November 2015

[Press Release]

4 August 2015 – The National Gallery Singapore has announced that it will open its doors to the public on the 24th of November 2015. The opening of this new visual arts institution will mark an important moment for both the city and the region, and will be home to Singapore’s National Collection, the largest public collection of visual arts from Singapore and Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present day.

“As the first museum in the world dedicated to Southeast Asian modern art, National Gallery Singapore hopes to captivate and kindle a curiosity for art – from art histories to the stories behind the art, from the discoveries we uncover about Southeast Asia and the world, to stories about ourselves,” said Ms. Chong Siak Ching, CEO, National Gallery Singapore.

The National Gallery Singapore will focus on displaying, promoting and researching these artworks, relating them to wider Asian and international contexts, and creating a cultural dialogue between Singapore and the rest of the world. Under the direction of leading Singaporean curator Dr. Eugene Tan, the National Gallery Singapore will engage with audiences through its collection of artworks, innovative programming and its international exhibitions.

Images from clockwise: Building Façade, National Gallery Singapore; Atrium, National Gallery Singapore; Rotunda Dome, National Gallery Singapore; Rotunda, National Gallery Singapore, image credit Darren Soh All images courtesy of National Gallery Singapore

Images from clockwise: Building Façade, National Gallery Singapore; Atrium, National Gallery Singapore; Rotunda Dome, National Gallery Singapore; Rotunda, National Gallery Singapore, image credit Darren Soh All images courtesy of National Gallery Singapore

“By presenting co-curated international art exhibitions, the Gallery will not only be able to portray the development of art around the region but also show Southeast Asian art in a global context. Through our exhibitions, collaborative research and education, the museum will continually spark thoughtful and meaningful conversations about art from the region and the world. In essence, the Gallery will be a place for everyone – Singaporeans, our neighbours and visitors from all over the world – where they can be immersed in a unique experience of art and be inspired, engaged, and moved to share this experience with others,” said Dr. Eugene Tan, Director, National Gallery Singapore.

Designed by Studio Milou Singapore, in partnership with CPG Consultants (Singapore), the National Gallery Singapore will occupy two important heritage buildings in the heart of the Civic District, the City Hall and former Supreme Court. At 64,000 square metres, the National Gallery Singapore will be the largest visual arts institution in Singapore. While maintaining a deep respect for the original architecture and conserving the structure of these historically significant buildings, Studio Milou Singapore have elegantly integrated the two interior spaces into one new visually stunning arts institution.

Inside the building, the architects have reimagined the circulation of the space. New walkways supported by white tree-like branches will transform the way visitors move through the galleries, introducing contemporary structures without detracting from the fabric of the original architecture. The rooftop of the former Supreme Court building will also now be accessible, revealing a view across the original rotunda domes. Outside, a canopy of 15,000 golden aluminum panels gently floats between the two neoclassical structures, joining the buildings and providing a dappled sunlit central courtyard.

The Art
The Gallery’s programme will comprise permanent displays with special exhibitions, creating a unique dialogue between the Southeast Asian region and the rest of the world. Singapore’s National Collection is a leading public collection of modern and contemporary artworks from Southeast Asia, including pieces by significant Singaporean artists, particularly from the Nanyang School of the 1950’s – 1970’s. Other key genres within the collection include Social Realist works, modern ink painting, abstract painting and sculpture from the 1970s and 1980s.

The Gallery will feature two unique spaces dedicated to displaying work by artists from Singapore and Southeast Asia. The DBS Singapore Gallery focuses on providing the public with a critical understanding of Singaporean art and the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery will explore the wider region, providing a narrative of modern art in Southeast Asia within a framework of shared historical experiences.

International collaborations
The first major international collaboration in March 2016, planned as part of the Gallery’s international programmes, will be with the Centre Pompidou, the National Museum of Modern Art of France. The exhibition co-curated by both museums, will feature highlights from the two institutions’ collections, reframing modernism in the context of Southeast Asia. In October 2016, National Gallery Singapore will collaborate with Tate Britain in London to co-curate a special exhibition exploring the theme of ‘Artist and Empire’ in Singapore. The exhibition will first be presented in London in November 2015. The Singapore exhibition will feature key works jointly selected by both museums, with a greater emphasis on Southeast Asia. The exhibition, presented in the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, will be co-curated by the Gallery’s team of Low Sze Wee, Director of Curatorial and Collections, Melinda Susanto and Toffa Binte Abdul Wahed, together with the Tate Britain team comprising Alison Smith, Lead Curator, 19th Century British Art, and curators David Brown, Carol Jacobi and Caroline Corbeau-Parsons.

At the core of the museum’s ethos is education and learning in order to enable visitors to understand and engage with the visual art culture of Singapore and the wider Southeast Asian region. In particular, National Gallery Singapore will open the Keppel Centre for Art Education, allowing families, students and children to have a unique art experience through various innovative programmes which include commissioned artworks designed for younger audiences. The Keppel Centre will feature a number of specially designed gallery spaces enabling children to engage in workshops, feature their artworks on the walls of the museum and be a curator. Outside of the centre, National Gallery Singapore will also lead programmes for schools, educators, families and various community groups including seniors and special needs groups.
The Gallery is also dedicated to bringing learning and educational programmes to the adult audience by offering daily tours, conversations with artists, screenings and workshops, lectures and symposiums. A particularly unique aspect of adult learning will include after-hours programmes.