Syfa & Ganjar

Discovering the Wonders of Art at National Gallery Singapore

Written by Syfa 

When my husband was planning our vacation itinerary in Singapore, he asked me about the places I wished to visit. Without hesitation, I expressed my enthusiasm to explore the National Museum of Singapore and the National Gallery Singapore.

My husband and I both enjoy history, and we prefer to avoid crowded places. Thus, visiting a museum or art gallery seemed like the perfect choice for us.

Furthermore, this trip served as a thoughtful birthday present from him, who knew I had always longed to explore this renowned gallery while in Singapore. So, in this article, I would like to share our experiences of exploring the largest gallery in Singapore.

Location

National Gallery Singapore
National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore is situated at 1 St Andrew's Rd, Singapore 178957. To reach the gallery, visitors can opt for various modes of transportation, including buses, MRT trains, and taxis. As our hotel was conveniently located near an MRT station, my husband and I chose to commute via the MRT.

Three MRT stations provide easy access to the gallery: City Hall (EW13/NS25), Clarke Quay (NE5), and Raffles Place (EW14/NS26). For visitors who prefer to come here by bus or taxi, additional information is available here.

We entered the gallery through the Padang Atrium door, which is situated close to the concert venue where bands usually perform during the F1 event. The gallery can also be accessed via the Coleman Street entrance. For more information about the gallery's access guide, please click here.

Admission

visitor admission
The ticket counter is near the screen guide
big screen guide
Screen guide

Admission fees to the National Gallery Singapore vary depending on the type of ticket selected. There are three types of tickets available: General Admission (SGD 20), Special Exhibition (SGD 25), and All Access Pass (SGD 30). Since it was our first visit, my husband and I opted for the General Admission ticket just to see what the gallery is all about.

Discounted ticket prices are available for children (ages 7-12), senior citizens (60 years old and above), and Singapore locals. Visitors can purchase tickets directly on the official website or through third-party platforms like Traveloka or Klook, which we used for convenience and to avoid using credit cards.

At the time of our purchase, the ticket price on Traveloka was Rp 127,700 (SGD 11.42), but prices may vary. The total cost for two tickets, including a service fee, was Rp 257,699 (SGD 23).

The gallery is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm local time, with ticket sales and exchanges concluding 30 minutes before closing. To fully immerse yourself in the experience and allocate ample time for exploration, I recommend arriving as soon as the gallery opens.

About National Gallery of Singapore

city hall wing

The National Gallery of Singapore, once the Supreme Court and City Hall building, was completed in 1939. Encompassing 64,000 square meters, it is now home to over 8,000 masterpieces, making it the largest art gallery and museum in Singapore.

I was genuinely impressed when I learned about the transformation of this building into a public space and its subsequent status as one of the most visited art museums globally.

A General Admission ticket grants visitors access to six galleries: DBS Singapore Gallery, UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, Level 4 Gallery, Wu Guanzhong Gallery, The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, Koh Seow Chuan Concourse Gallery, City Hall Chamber, and Chief Justice's Chamber & Office.

Given the vastness of the National Gallery of Singapore, one day is truly insufficient to explore all its offerings. We managed to visit the exhibitions and some galleries, all of which were intriguing!

Exhibitions

Exhibition 1
NOTHING IS FOREVER: RETHINKING SCULPTURE IN SINGAPORE

One of the sculpture exhibitions we explored was located at The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery, Level B1, City Hall Wing, which was not far from the ticket exchange area upon entry. This exhibition was titled NOTHING IS FOREVER: RETHINKING SCULPTURE IN SINGAPORE and showcased over 70 remarkable sculptures.

What sets this exhibition apart is its unique scheduling system. Each displayed sculpture is assigned a specific time frame, such as from July 29, 2022, to February 5, 2023. After the designated period ends, new works replace the exhibited pieces.

This distinctive approach differs from other museums, where artwork is typically displayed in the same location indefinitely.

Entrepeneur by Vincent Hoisington
Entrepeneur by Vincent Hoisington
Exhibition National Gallery
‘Cloud of ’68’ (1971, remade 2022) by Tang Da Wu

This rotating system piques visitors' interest, as they know that new works will be showcased within a few months.

Exhibition Gallery
'New Era' by Lim Leong Seng, plastic bags, rubber bands and air.

Children's Biennale

Children's Biennale
Children's Bieannale

Another exhibition we attended was the Children's Biennale, located at the Supreme Court Wing, Level B1, Koh Seow Chuan Concourse Gallery. This exhibition was easily accessible, being situated on the 1st floor near the Padang Atrium entrance.

As the name implies, the Children's Biennale is an exhibition specifically designed for children, aiming to engage their curiosity and inspire their creativity through various interactive displays and activities, such as Head/Home, Voices from The Centers, A Day's Book, etc.

This exhibition was designed to navigate the ever-changing times by fostering empathy and self-confidence in children through those engaging, interactive activities.

My husband and I were extremely impressed with the National Gallery of Singapore, as it provided an unparalleled experience for visitors. We visited two of the nine galleries: Voices from The Centers and Head/Home.

Voices from The Centers

Voices from The Centers
Voices from The Centers

Voices from The Centers was created by DINH Q. LÊ, a Vietnamese multimedia artist. The concept of this gallery was inspired by the TikTok app, where people can express themselves by singing, dancing, or talking in front of the camera.

Choose the artwork
Choosing the artwork

Children were invited to choose from the National Gallery's collection of artworks displayed on a screen. After selecting an artwork, they were encouraged to explore their creativity in front of the camera, imitating TikTok's singing, dancing, and other activities.

Download video
Downloading the video

The result was a 60-second video. Visitors could view the resulting video by scanning a barcode that appeared on the screen and manually downloading it to their phones. This engaging approach taught children to appreciate the artwork in a fun and enjoyable way.

Head/Home

Head or Home
Head/Home

Head/Home was created by Filipino artists Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan. This gallery featured an online floating city concept, inviting children to imagine and express their ideas about home.

Children constructed their "homes" from cardboard and other everyday materials, and the resulting creations were displayed in the gallery. It was truly fascinating!

Head or Home Artwork
Children's artwork

UOB Southeast Asia Gallery

Between Declarations and Dreams Exhibition
Between Declarations and Dreams

One of the galleries that excited me the most was titled Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century. To my surprise, the title was taken from Chairil Anwar's poem Karawang-Bekasi, which reads, "....keep watch over the line between declarations and dreams."

The line in the poem encapsulates the experience of many Indonesian artists caught between declarations and dreams, personal and political, while lamenting the massacre of villagers in West Java by Dutch colonial forces.

The exhibition was located in the Supreme Court Wing, Gallery 1-14, housing over 300 artistic works from across Southeast Asia.

Supreme Court Building

As the overarching theme was Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century, the stories depicted in these works covered colonialism, migration, nationalist struggles, and political and cultural issues of the time.

Forest Fire (Boschbrand) by Raden Saleh
Forest Fire (Boschbrand) by Raden Saleh

One such work was Raden Saleh's painting titled Forest Fire or Boschbrand. The painting portrayed wild animals being chased by fire to the edge of a cliff.

A tiger displayed its anger, a buffalo ran, dragging other tigers and buffaloes into the abyss. Many experts have interpreted this work from various perspectives, one of which is the depiction of human life's extreme brutality.

Although set in West Java, Raden Saleh had lived in Europe for 20 years when creating this painting. He later gifted it to King Willem III of the Netherlands in 1850, and it remains the largest painting he ever created.

Flight to Freedom by Pacita Abad
Flight to Freedom by Pacita Abad

Moving on to another piece, this painting was by Pacita Abad, born in 1946 in the Philippines. The painting depicted Cambodian refugees who were victims of the war between Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge (1978-1989).

Pacita Abad visited the refugees' camps on the Thailand-Cambodia border, witnessing and collecting their firsthand experiences. These stories resulted in a work that portrayed torture, homelessness, poverty, and suffering endured by the refugees during those difficult and chaotic times.

Bedroom of Mother and Her Child by Jim Supangkat
The Bedroom of Mother and Child by Jim Supangkat

Another artwork was Bedroom of Mother and Child by Jim Supangkat from Indonesia. This piece combined furniture and household items with severed mannequin body parts. Supangkat aimed to highlight how political issues in Indonesia at the time infiltrated even the most intimate spaces—the bedroom.

In conclusion, the National Gallery Singapore offers a diverse and engaging experience for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. Its vast collection and unique exhibitions make it a must-visit destination when traveling to Singapore.

Keep in mind that one day may not be sufficient to cover everything this gallery has to offer, so plan your visit accordingly to make the most of your experience.

So, there you have it, our story of exploring the largest art gallery in Singapore. With ticket prices starting from around 100,000 IDR, I believe this experience is a must-try. I definitely plan to return, as there are still many exhibitions yet to be explored.

I hope readers enjoy our story and are inspired to visit educational attractions like this one. Please share your experiences in the comments section. We look forward to meeting you in our next travel article!

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →
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