National Gallery Singapore
|National Gallery Singapore
|Established||Official opening in 2015|
|Location||1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore, 178957|
|Type||Singapore, Southeast Asian art, International art|
|Public transit access||City Hall MRT station|
National Gallery Singapore (Chinese: 新加坡国家美术馆; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō guójiā meishùguǎn) is a planned art gallery to be located in the Downtown Core of Singapore. It will incorporate two national monuments, the Old Supreme Court Building and City Hall, and is scheduled for its official launch in 2015. The Gallery aims to provide an understanding and appreciation of art and culture through a variety of media, focusing on Singapore's culture and heritage and its relationship with the cultures of the Southeast Asian region, in Asia, and the world.
- 1 About National Gallery Singapore
- 2 History
- 3 The Buildings
- 4 Collection and display
- 5 Exhibitions held at the Singapore Art Museum's premises
- 6 Travelling shows and artworks
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
About National Gallery Singapore
National Gallery Singapore is a new institution for visual arts. It manages the world's largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian and Singapore art. The Gallery focuses on displaying, promoting and researching these artworks, relating them to the wider Asian and international contexts, and hosting international art exhibitions.
Situated in the heart of the Civic District, the City Hall and adjacent former Supreme Court building — two important heritage buildings symbolic of Singapore's nationhood - will be converted to house this new visual arts venue, and is anticipated to be completed by 2015. The Gallery will be a civic and creative space.
The Gallery will also be an integrated development that could include food and beverage and retail components within Singapore's Civic District, which overlooks the Padang. The combined floor area of 60,000 square metres at the Old Supreme Court Building and City Hall will be developed at a total cost of S$532 million.
- Research, exhibit and promote Southeast Asian artworks for the enjoyment of all
- To be a central civic space, providing a platform for artistic expression and learning as well as a lifestyle destination, built for the engagement, enjoyment and enrichment of Singaporeans and visitors
- Facilitate exchange of knowledge through regional partnerships and collaboration with other institutions
- Drive, develop and foster visual arts development in Singapore and Southeast Asia, as well as establish a leading position in the international museums and galleries scene
- Inform and educate audiences, through multi-sensory media and engaging experiences
Board of Directors
- Mr Hsieh Fu Hua (Chairman), Chairman, UOB Bank 
- Mr Jose Isidro N. (Lito) Camacho, Managing Director and Vice President (Asia Pacific) and Country CEO (Singapore), Credit Suisse
- Ms Chong Siak Ching, CEO, National Gallery Singapore 
- Mrs Rosa Daniel, CEO, National Heritage Board
- Ms Jane Ittogi, Chairman, Singapore Art Museum and Partner, Shook Lin and Bok LLP
- Mr Kwee Liong Seen, Executive Director, Pontiac Land Pte Ltd
- Mr Kenson Kwok, Founding Director (Honorary), Asian Civilisations Museum & Peranakan Museum
- Ms Kathy Lai, CEO, National Arts Council
- Mr Benson Puah, CEO, The Esplanade Co. Ltd.
- Dr Suriani Suratman, Senior Lecturer, Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore
- Mr Wee Sin Tho, Vice President (Endowment & Institutional Development), National University of Singapore
The need for a National Gallery
With a vision of becoming a global city for the arts, Singapore has carefully nurtured the arts and culture scene over the past two decades. The island city has witnessed increasing attendance and participation in key events and festivals such as the Singapore Biennale, Singapore Arts Festival and Singapore Art Show. These events have helped propel Singapore onto the international scene, highlighting her prominence as an international arts hub - a place where the global arts community can come together for exchange and collaboration.
At his National Day Rally speech on 21 August 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned the government's plan to convert the Old Supreme Court Building and City Hall into a new national gallery. On 2 September 2006, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts officially announced the setting up of the National Gallery Singapore, during the Singapore Biennale 2006 at the National Museum of Singapore.
The then Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) proceeded to implement a process designed to enable stakeholders and interested parties to contribute their expertise and their views to the project. A steering committee, chaired by Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MICA, oversees the art gallery's implementation plan. The steering committee is supported by an executive committee and four advisory groups. The advisory groups provide advice on museology, architectural conservation, finance and communications.
On 23 February 2007, MICA, together with the Singapore Institute of Architects, launched a two-stage architectural design competition to identify the most suitable architect and design for the National Gallery. The first stage of the competition called for design and concept proposals, and began on 19 March with a site tour of the two buildings for competing architects to get design concepts and ideas. It drew 111 entries from 29 countries worldwide, with five proposals shortlisted in May 2007. Members of the jury consist of a panel of eminent local and international professionals headed by Tommy Koh, Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large and chairman of the National Heritage Board, and include officials from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Musée national des Arts asiatiques-Guimet in France and the Asian Civilisations Museum.
For the second stage, the shortlisted candidates had to develop their designs, from which the winning proposal will be selected by the jury. As the Old Supreme Court Building and City Hall are national monuments, certain aspects of the buildings cannot be altered, such as the façade, the Surrender Chamber, the office of Singapore's founding Prime Minister and the panelling in four rooms of the Supreme Court. However, this still leaves open many design options such as the addition of roof and basement floors. The participants also had to submit entries within a budget of S$320 million.
On 29 August 2007, the seven-member international jury panel named the top three designs out of the five shortlisted. The three firms — Studio Milou Architecture from France, Ho + Hou Architects from Taiwan, and Chan Sau Yan Associates from Singapore — each received S$150,000. The jury made their decision after appraising models and digital mock-ups, as well as engaging the five finalists in a presentation and question-and-answer session. The other two firms that were shortlisted in the first stage are DP Architects and Australia's Smart Design Studio.
An exhibition of the five finalists' proposals was held at City Hall in October 2007, and the public will be invited to give feedback on the designs, programmes and events. The jury's decision was presented to MICA, which decided on who to commission to design and build the art gallery. An announcement on the final design was made in the first quarter of 2008.
France's Studio Milou Architecture, in collaboration with CPG Consultants from Singapore, designed a linear draped canopy supported by tree-like columns to link the Old Supreme Court Building and City Hall at the roof level. The design incorporates an extended staircase linking the basement to the upper levels, and makes use of solar energy to provide electricity. Fine metal mesh has been proposed to cover most of City Hall. Panel members agreed it had "the most delightful design and appeal", and was ranked first among the top three designs.
Working together with AEDAS from Singapore, Taiwan's Ho + Hou Studio's design keeps the two buildings separate above ground, but links them at the basement. Its proposal includes building a framework of tall columns in wood laminate which resemble the stilts structures of a kelong. Natural light is controlled through lattices and louvres through a glazed roof. It was praised by the jury for its "well-thought-through arrangement of its terraced gallery and related spaces", and was ranked second.
Singapore's Chan Sau Yan Associates partnered with environmental design company Lekker Design, and their design involves building a main entry portal between the two buildings. The firm created an extra storey on the roof of City Hall, which can be used as additional gallery space. The design has translucent walls that allow viewers to see the adjacent historic walls of City Hall and the former Supreme Court. Overhead bridges are used to connect both buildings, and the naturally lit and ventilated entrance helps to conserve energy. The design was complimented by the jury for its "pure simplicity and clever integration of spaces".
DP Architects sought to retain the buildings' original character and uses moving images on screen to create movement, while Smart Design Studio's design sports orchid-inspired structures and has a "porous" internal street.
Winner of competition and appointed contractor
In May 2008, Studio Milou Singapore, in partnership with CPG Consultants (Singapore), was appointed to design and build the Gallery.
Studio Milou Architecture is a French architectural firm, with branches in Paris and Singapore that specialise in the design of museums and cultural spaces. Led by principal architect and lead partner Jean-Francois Milou, the firm has a reputation for working with adaptive reuse of historical buildings, seeking imaginative solutions while respecting the building's historical fabric, meaning and surroundings.
CPG Consultants, a subsidiary of CPG Corporation, is a multi-disciplinary design consultancy firm. Headquartered in Singapore, CPG Consultants has extensive expertise in conservation and preservation of buildings. To date, the company has completed over 20 such projects in Singapore, most of which are gazetted monuments.
On 21 December 2010, the Gallery appointed Takenaka-Singapore Piling Joint Venture as the main construction contractor for the new Gallery. The construction works on the buildings started in January 2011 and is predicted to be completed in about 44 months.
A crawler crane tilted and its jib landed on Coleman Street next to the old Supreme Court at about 9 am on 25 July 2013 reportedly missing cars driving by, under renovation for the National Gallery. The incident did not result in any injuries but the stretch of Coleman Street affected by the collapse and traffic was directed.
On 30 September 2013, at least two men are dead following the collapse of a tower crane at the National Gallery construction site on Coleman Street on Monday morning, while three other workers were seriously injured. Concrete slabs on the rear of the crane, which serve as counterbalance, came loose at about 10.32am and fell onto scaffolding in the worksite, eyewitnesses said.
Both the City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings are national monuments and have played a significant role in Singapore's history. The buildings face onto an open field known as the Padang, which is a Malay word meaning "flat field".
Former Supreme Court
The Former Supreme Court building was built on the site of the former Grand Hotel de l'Europe, one of the most palatial hotels in Southeast Asia that was demolished in 1936. Designed by Frank Dorrington Ward, Chief Architect of the Public Works Department, the former Supreme Court building was built to house Supreme Court offices and courtrooms and was declared open on 3 August 1939.
The former Supreme Court building is the former courthouse of the Supreme Court of Singapore, before it moved out of the building and commenced operations in the new building on 20 June 2005.
The architecture of the former Supreme Court building is in harmony with that of its neighbour, the City Hall. The general layout of the building exemplifies British colonial architecture, comprising four blocks of offices and courtrooms surrounding a central rotunda with a dome, originally used to house a circular law library. It was to be the last classical building to be built in Singapore. United Engineers Ltd was the contractor for the building.
Designed by the British Municipal architects A Gordon and F D Meadows, the City Hall building was built between 1926 and 1929, and was originally known as the Municipal Building. It is used to house the offices of the Municipal Council, which was responsible for the provision of water, electricity, gas, roads and bridges and street lighting. From 1963 to 1991, City Hall came to house offices of several government departments and courtrooms.
The City Hall building has been the focal point of many important events in the history of Singapore. It was in the City Hall building that Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces on 12 September 1945, on behalf of the Allied forces. The building also housed the office of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore. Mr Lee and members of his Cabinet took their Oaths of Allegiance and Oaths of Office on 5 June 1959 in the City Hall Chamber. It was gazetted on 14 February 1992 as a national monument.
The original layout of City Hall is a typical example of neoclassical British architecture. The building's interior is modestly proportioned, but its front façade is distinguished by 18 three storey high Corinthian columns facing the Padang.
The National Gallery Singapore
At 60,000 square metres in size, the Gallery will be the largest visual arts venue and largest museum in Singapore. The proposed design for the new Gallery integrates the City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings, creating a blend between the old and the new. A new basement level will be created, connecting the two buildings, providing a large concourse area for visitor services. Connecting bridges between the buildings will also allow visitors to move easily between the buildings.
- DBS Singapore Gallery - presents a collection of Singapore art from the 19th century and colonial period, to present day
- Southeast Asia Gallery- showcases Southeast Asian works, introducing the art historical developments in the region and their relationship to Singapore art
- Special set of Research Galleries - complements the core galleries, providing space for curators and researchers to experiment with ways of presenting materials from the Gallery's permanent collection, and to encourage greater dialogue between Singapore's national collection and those of other regional institutions
- Changing gallery spaces – almost 6,000 square metres of spaces to host international travelling exhibitions
Keppel Centre for Art Education
The Keppel Centre for Art Education  will be the first dedicated art education facility of its kind in Singapore and the region. The Centre will provide an immersive and creative learning environment for the young and resources for educators and researchers. Visitors to the Centre will encounter artworks that are presented in different age-appropriate spaces conducive for active play and discovery, as well as quiet and reflective learning.
The Keppel Centre for Art Education is prominently located on the ground level of the Gallery's City Hall wing and occupies a total floor area of 910 square metres. It will comprise four distinct art environments - a Children’s Museum, an interactive Art Playscape, a Project Gallery and a Tactile Art Corridor with artists’ commissions. The Centre will also offer exciting programmes including a regular series of Art Education forums, presentations and exhibitions, as well as active-learning programmes conducted by artists,curators and museum educators.
The Rooftop Plaza
A metal and glass canopy, supported by tree-like columns, integrates the buildings at roof level. The rooftop plaza will be a day and night destination, with performances, exhibitions, talks, events and eateries. Visitors can dine at one of several restaurants or cafés, or walk through displays of some of the largest pieces of modern and contemporary art.
Programme and facilities
By day, the Gallery will offer learning and education opportunities for all, through its exhibition displays, artist talks, children's programmes and other related activities. By night, the Gallery will transform into a venue, with restaurants and cafés, as well as outdoor programmes, events, film screenings and concerts.
The Gallery will provide venues for hire for conferences, seminars, film screenings, performances and private functions. The Gallery will house a 200-seat auditorium, function and seminar room spaces for various types of events and corporate functions.
Collection and display
The National Gallery will focus on displaying Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to present day, including Singapore art. Through its collection, the Gallery will present the development of Singapore and regional cultures, so as to tell the story of their social, economic and political histories.
While the body of works at the National Gallery falls largely within the area of modern art, the Gallery strives towards understanding the collection in new and varied ways – taking on a contemporary approach and interpretation of the development of Southeast Asian art. The Gallery will look beyond national and regional boundaries of art, and take on a wider ambit of international visual arts culture, research into Singapore's Asian heritage and cultural affiliations, and engage with global cultures and discourses.
Singapore's National Collection started with an original bequest of 93 works made to the National Museum in 1976, by the well-known cinema magnate and art patron, Dato Loke Wan Tho. Through careful nurturing over the years, this collection has grown significantly to approximately 8,000 pieces in 2010. The National Heritage Board is presently the custodian of this collection, the world's largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art.
The collection's strength lies in its representation of Singapore art and its holdings of works by major Singaporean artists such as Georgette Chen, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng and Liu Kang. The collection now spans from early 20th century naturalistic paintings to contemporary video installations. The collection also holds pieces from Southeast Asian artists of international standing, such as Affandi (Indonesia), Latiff Mohidin (Malaysia), Le Pho (Vietnam), Montien Boonma (Thailand) and Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (Philippines). Apart from displays within Singapore, the National Collection has also travelled to international museums and exhibition venues in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Exhibitions held at the Singapore Art Museum's premises
|In/sight: Abstract Art by Wu Guanzhong and Artists from Southeast Asia||Wu Guanzhong and various artists||This exhibition draws parallels between the art of Wu Guanzhong and abstract art from Southeast Asia. The exhibition showcases a selection of abstract works from the national collection to illustrate the diverse motivations for abstraction amidst distinct and varied backgrounds.||Till 30 April 2014|
|Seeing the Kite Again Series II||Wu Guanzhong||This exhibition is inspired by the late master Wu Guanzhong's metaphor of a kite and how it expresses the connection between an artist, his life and the people around him. The current exhibition showcases some of Wu's most outstanding works produced from 1960s to 2000s in the oil and ink medium.||Till 5 May 2013|
|Liu Kang: A Centennial Celebration||Liu Kang||This exhibition is held in commemoration of the artist's centennial year of birth. Featuring 100 works by Liu Kang, this exhibition invites visitors on a journey of exploration into the life and mind of the artist.||29 July 2011 – 16 October 2011|
|Notable Acquisitions Exhibition||Various||A display of works from the museum's donation collection. New works are added to the permanent collection through the donations of individuals and corporations.||Works by Tan Oe Pang: 18 April 2011 - 5 February 2012
Works by Arthur Yap, Tay Chee Toh & Chia Wai Hon: 7 December 2010 - 27 March 2011
|In memory of Wu Guanzhong:Seeing the Kites Again||Wu Guanzhong||An exhibition held to showcase the works donated by Mr Wu Guanzhong, a leading Chinese painter, art educator and essayist in the 20th century. He was known for the crossing and synthesis of two major art forms - ink and oil.||14 December 2009 – 1 May 2011|
|Cheong Soo Pieng: Bridging Worlds||Cheong Soo Pieng||Cheong Soo Pieng: Bridging Worlds celebrates the works and creative processes of one of Singapore's local art pioneers. This exhibition chronicles the journey and artistic process of a man who lived, breathed, and reshaped art.||15 September 2010 – 26 December 2010|
|The Story of Yeh Chi Wei||Yeh Chi Wei||Yeh Chi Wei led the Ten Men Group on painting expeditions to Southeast Asian countries and was a great source of inspiration and encouragement to many other artists. This exhibition showcased Yeh's artistic achievements and celebration of Southeast Asia through art.||27 May 2010 – 12 September 2010|
|Realism In Asian Art||Various||Realism in Asian Art explored the impact of realist approaches to painting in different parts of Asia. This exhibition displayed the different kinds of realism that were produced across Asia and was the first-ever attempt to understand a strong and important genre in Asian modern art.||9 April 2010 – 4 July 2010|
Travelling shows and artworks
|Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal||Art Science Museum||17 March to 12 August 2012||Enter the world of pop artist Andy Warhol with the most extensive collection of the legendary artist's artworks ever exhibited in Singapore. Covering his different artistic phases from the 1940s to 1980s, the exhibition features over 260 paintings, drawings, sculptures, film and video.||Redza Piyadasa, 1991, Seated Malay Girl, mixed media on paper, 33 x 65 cm, collection of the National Heritage Board|
|The Birth and Development of Singapore Art||Fukuoka Asian Art Museum||29 March to 26 June 2012||In 2010 FAAM joined forces with The National Gallery Singapore, to facilitate the exchange of exhibitions, research efforts and staff. Marking the start of this relationship, this exhibition highlights works from both museums, and explores the route taken by Singapore art. This exhibition presents a special opportunity for visitors to see artworks of Singapore's two master artists, whose works formed an essential part of the story of Singapore art.||Selected artworks by Singapore artists Lim Hak Tai and Cheong Soo Pieng|
|East Meets West – The Exhibition of Wu Guangzhong's Paintings||Zhejiang Art Museum||20 November to 25 December 2010||The artworks of the late master Chinese painter Wu Guanzhong belonging to Singapore was exhibited at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou. Titled East Meets West – The Exhibition of Wu Guangzhong's Paintings, it comprised a total of 307 works of art by Wu.||76 artworks from the exhibition hailed from the National Heritage Board Singapore's collection. Singapore's contribution of Wu's works was the second largest amongst the eight participating art institutions.|
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- National Art Gallery, Singapore, 2009. Light & Movement Portrayed: The Art of Anthony Poon. ISBN 978-981-08-3545-3
- Yeo Wei Wei (editor), 2010. Realism in Asia Volume One. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-5349-5
- National Art Gallery, Singapore, 2010. The Story of Yeh Chi Wei. ISBN 978-981-08-5026-5
- Grace Tng, Seng Yu Jin & Yeo Wei Wei, 2010. Cheong Soo Pieng: Visions of Southeast Asia. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-6422-4
- Yeo Wei Wei & Ye Shufang, 2010. Salted Fish. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-6444-6
- National Art Gallery, Singapore, 2010. When I Grow Up I Want to Paint Like Cheong Soo Pieng (CSP Colouring Book). ISBN 978-981-08-6888-8
- Sara Siew (ed), 2011. Liu Kang: Essays on Art and Culture. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-7675-3
- Yeo Wei Wei (ed), 2011. Asian Artists Series - Liu Kang: Colourful Modernist. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-8675-2
- National Art Gallery, Singapore, 2011. When I Grow Up I Want to Paint Like Liu Kang. ISBN 978-981-08-7997-6
- Natalie Hennedige, 2012. Koko The Great. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-8758-2
- Ho Lee- Ling, 2013. Who is Cheong Soo Pieng? National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-07-5678-9
- Sara Siew, 2013. Awesome Art. National Art Gallery, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-07-4372-7