Singapore’s National Gallery is known for its art exhibitions, but there’s plenty of lesser-known secrets it contains. Take a deep dive into the fascinating history, architecture and artistic vision that make the National Gallery an irreplaceable feature of Singapore’s arts scene.
Nestled into Singapore’s former Supreme Court and City Hall Building, the Gallery opened in 2015 and has housed many travelling exhibitions ever since. Many famous artists have exhibited with the Gallery, and to date it showcases more than 8000 pieces from Singapore’s National Collection. The Gallery is split into two sections ; the City Hall Wing and the Supreme Court Wing.
The foundation stone of the Supreme Court might not seem like a place to hide a time capsule, but beneath it contains newspapers dated 31 March 1937, and currency from the Straits Settlements. However, it’ll be far in the future before the time capsule is opened again in the year 3000.
In the Supreme Court Wing of the National Gallery lies one of the Gallery’s best kept secrets – the Rotunda Library. Named for its domed shape, it features books about art history, contemporary art and much more. While this library is meant for research projects about art, it is open to the public as well. The architecture in the Rotunda Library is stunning, and the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon!
Colonial-era architecture is also masterfully preserved to give gallery visitors an authentic experience! You’ll get a taste of old Singapore with tiled floors and high pillar beams. And if you go in the morning, it’s especially beautiful with the light shining in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The National Gallery also functions as a mini-museum in the Supreme Court Wing, where breathtaking architecture adds to the grandeur of Singapore’s National Collection. Plenty of official documents from Singapore’s past are up on display, along with Singapore’s independence declaration!
Works by Southeast Asian artists are also on display, with stunning paintings lining the walls of the Gallery. You’ll want to spend a little more time exploring the Between Declarations and Dreams Galleries, which masterfully weave art and history into an unforgettable narrative.
Art isn’t just confined to the exhibition spaces of the Gallery. Installations are scattered throughout the entire building, and you’ll find something new at every turn! From unique wall art to interactive installations, you’ll want to explore every inch of the Gallery.
There are activities for the younger ones as well at the Keppel Centre For Art Education, an area of the Gallery specifically targeted at educating the young. Kids can play interactive games, make their own unique creations, and learn about art at the same time! The activities tie in with the Gallery’s public exhibitions as well, so the little ones won’t miss out on the fun.
A hidden rooftop garden sits at the Gallery’s fifth floor as a tranquil getaway from the bustle of the CBD. There are restaurants along the edge of the rooftop garden, if you fancy relaxing for a short while with a cuppa.
Don’t miss the spectacular view of Singapore’s skyline from the Coleman Deck on level 6! You’ll be treated to a sight like no other as the Gallery overlooks the Padang and beyond. It’s definitely a photo-worthy spot for the ‘gram! If you go during sunset, you’ll be able to have a panoramic view of the sun setting over the CBD.
The National Gallery is a testament to Singapore’s vibrant arts scene. It invites visitors on a journey of self-discovery and reflection, to connect with art, challenge the familiar and make sense of the unknown. The building is not merely a medium for art, but rather an exhibit showcasing the soul of Singapore’s art scene. So, if you have a free afternoon or two, why not pay a visit to the National Gallery?
Address: 1 St Andrew's Rd, Singapore 178957
Opening Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–7pm