Singapore Art Museum

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Singapore Art Museum
Singapore Art Museum - 20131211.jpg
Front view of the Singapore Art Museum
Established 1995 (officially opened 20 January 1996)
Location 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore
(1°17′50″N 103°51′03″E / 1.29734°N 103.85090°E / 1.29734; 103.85090Coordinates: 1°17′50″N 103°51′03″E / 1.29734°N 103.85090°E / 1.29734; 103.85090)
Type Contemporary Art (Singapore and Southeast Asia)
Director Dr Susie Lingham[1]
Public transit access Bras Basah MRT Station
(1°17′48.987″N 103°51′2.10″E / 1.29694083°N 103.8505833°E / 1.29694083; 103.8505833)
Website Singapore Art Museum

Since it opened its doors in 1996, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM, Chinese: 新加坡美术馆; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō Měishùguǎn) has amassed one of the world's largest public collections of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks, with a growing component in international contemporary art. Housed in a restored 19th century mission school, SAM draws from its collection and collaborates with international contemporary art museums to curate and present contemporary art exhibitions. Visitors can extend their SAM experience through complementary and exhibition-related education and public programmes such as lectures, workshops, special Curator and Artist tours, as well as performances. Contemporary art of the region is also given international exposure through SAM's travelling exhibition programme and collection loans. SAM was the organiser of the Singapore Biennale in 2011 and 2013.


Officially opened on 20 January 1996,[2] it is one of the first art museums with international standard museum facilities and programmes in Southeast Asia.[citation needed]

The museum, then known as the Fine Arts Museum, was borne out of a project by the National Museum to set up a five-museum precinct in the city. The other four museums that make up the precinct are known as the Singapore History Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, People's Museum and the Children's Museum.[3] The Fine Arts Museum project began with the restoration of the former St. Joseph's Institution building. At the same time, the appointment of artist and surgeon Dr Earl Lu to head an 11-member Fine Arts Museum Board was announced on July 18, 1992, by the Minister of State (Information and the Arts and Education) Dr Ker Sin Tze. The 11-strong Board was tasked to acquire works of art by notable painters from Southeast Asia and East Asia, and by upcoming potential artists from these regions, for the benefit of the visual arts heritage of Singaporeans in centuries to come. Low Chuck Tiew, a retired banker and prominent art collector, served as museum adviser, along with Mrs Shirley Loo-Lim, Deputy Director of the National Museum of Singapore as vice-Chairman of the Board. Dr Geh Min, Dr Ho Kok Hoe, Mr Lee Seng Tee, Dr Arthur Lim, T. K. Sabapathy, Sarkasi Said, Sum Yoke Kit, Wee Chwee Heng, Singapore Polytechnic alumni, and Dr Yap-Whang Whee Yong formed the rest of the Museum Board.[4]

The restoration work on the then 140-year-old national monument took more than two years and a cost of S$30 million. It first opened its doors to the public as the Singapore Art Museum on October 20, 1995.[citation needed] Its first art installation is a S$90,000 7-m-high Swarovski crystal chandelier at the Museum main entrance, which weighs 325 kilograms and took over three months to make.[5] The Museum was officially opened by then-Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Goh Chok Tong on January 20, 1996. In his opening speech he envisioned the new museum, along with the other four museums in the Arts and Heritage District and the Arts Centre, aiding Singapore in reprising its historic role as a centre of entrepot trade for the arts, culture, civilisation and ideas to the people in the Asian region and the rest of the world.[6]

In 2013, SAM corporatised, becoming an independent company limited by guarantee. Today, SAM focuses on international contemporary art practices, specialising in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Its vision is to be pivotal among contemporary art museums in the region and on the region, inspiring humane and better futures. Through contemporary art, SAM makes infinite room for everyone to think, feel, experience and imagine.

Location and facilities[edit]

Situated in the heart of Singapore’s arts and culture district, SAM is located alongside Singapore’s major performing arts and visual arts institutions: such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts, the Stamford Arts Centre, the Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore Calligraphy Centre, YMS Arts Centre, Dance Ensemble Singapore and Action Theatre as well as the School of the Arts: an institution that offers an integrated arts and academic curriculum for youths aged 13 to 18 years of age.

SAM, which includes its annexe SAM at 8Q on 8 Queen Street, is focused on curating and exhibiting SAM's permanent collection of contemporary art, as well as newly commissioned contemporary artworks from Singapore, Southeast Asia and beyond.

SAM is accessible by major public transportation systems such as the public buses, MRT and cab services. SAM is a 2 minute walk from Bras Basah MRT Station, and a 10 minute walk from Bugis, Dhoby Ghaut or City Hall MRT stations.


SAM’s approach is to present works curated from the Permanent Collection alongside changing exhibitions, to offer a well-rounded aesthetic experience of Asian contemporary art. From 2001, the museum began acquiring works and accepting donations from around the region, including from regional contemporary artists like Cheo Chai Hiang, Dinh Q Le, Natee Utarit, Nge Lay, Suzann Victor and Titarubi.

The museum also regularly partners with other leading art institutions to co-curate and produce exhibitions, such as the collaboration with Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art for Trans-Cool TOKYO (highlighting works by Japanese artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Yasumasa Morimura); Video, An Art, A History with the Pompidou Center (Bill Viola, Jean-Luc Godard, Bruce Nauman), Image and Illusion: Video Works from the Yokohama Museum of Art Collection.

The museum organizes regularly contemporary art exhibitions and events. It has for example invited twice the French artist Stéphane Blanquet to present installations. Once for the Night Lights festival in 2012, with "Distorted Forest"[7] and once for Art Gardens in 2013, with "Glossy Dreams in Depths".[8]

See also[edit]


Singapore Biennale 2013: If the World Changed ISBN: 978-981-07-8026-5

The President's Young Talents 2013 ISBN: 978-981-07-5657-4

Tomorrow, Today: Contemporary Art from the Singapore Art Museum (2009-2011) ISBN: 978-981-07-1880-0

Singapore Contemporary Artists Series Lee Wen: Lucid Dreams in the Reverie of the Real ISBN: 978-981-07-1881-7

The Singapore Show: Future Proof ISBN: 978-981-07-1093-4

Singapore Contemporary Artists: Amanda Heng: Speak To Me, Walk With Me ISBN: 978-981-07-0087-4

Singapore Biennale 2011 Catalogue ISBN: 978-981-08-8050-7

Video, an Art, a History 1965 – 2010 A Selection from the Centre Pompidou and Singapore Art Museum Collections ISBN 9789810884932

Negotiating Home, History and Nation Two decades of contemporary art in Southeast Asia 1991 – 2011 ISBN 978-981-08-8104-7

Natee Utarit: After Painting ISBN: 978-981-08-6692-1

Manit Sriwanichpoom: Phenomena and Prophecies ISBN: 978-981-08-6693-8

Who's Afraid Of Contemporary Art? A Survival Kit by Dawn Ng ISBN: 978-981-08-8954-8

Are You Afraid of Contemporary Art? by Natee Utarit ISBN: 978-981-07-1028-6

Are You Afraid of Contemporary Art? by Vincent Leow ISBN: 978-981-07-1029-3


  1. ^ May, Kim (2 July 2013). "THIRD DIRECTOR OF THE SINGAPORE ART MUSEUM APPOINTED". Press Release. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  2. ^ About the Singapore Art Museum, YourSingapore.
  3. ^ Leong, Weng Kam (1992-05-24). "Museum recruits more curators and specialists". Singapore: Straits Times. p. 16. 
  4. ^ "Work to convert old SJI into Fine Arts Museum to begin soon". Singapore: Straits Times. 1992-07-19. p. 3. 
  5. ^ "Two opening ceremonies: One for the building, one for the art". Singapore: Straits Times Life!. 1995-10-20. p. 23. 
  6. ^ Wang, Hui Ling (1996-02-21). "Vision of S'pore as entrepot for art, culture". Singapore: Straits Times. p. 1. 
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links[edit]