National Gallery

The Singapore arts scene seems to be breathing in life again, gradually getting in sync with the bustling economic growth this city state is well-known for. The opening of the newly refurbished National Gallery – a building reincarnated of the historic Supreme Court and City Hall buildings – adds some pizzazz to City Hall’s landscape of austere-looking State Courts and other functional buildings like malls, hotels and churches.

Most big cities have monumental museums boasting intricate and elaborate architecture to be valued as national treasures, such as the Louvre in France or the Smithsonian in the States. Ours is humble in comparison, but it’s a good first venture into housing Southeast Asian- and Singapore-themed visual art. Each museum stands out for its individuality. For example, you can find artifacts associated with the French Revolution or their history at the Louvre, but not an ancient statue of Buddha with Southeast Asian origins. There is wisdom in delving into a niche, no other country has explored in-depth, which is Southeast Asian- and Singapore- themed visual art. Moreover, being in the heart of ASEAN, Singapore has the weight to steer her in this direction. Kudos to the people who envisioned this gallery a decade ago. To commemorate its opening, the National Gallery opened its doors to all for free from 25 Nov – 6 Dec 2015.

I managed to drop by yesterday afternoon after a downpour with the intention of avoiding crowds. As always, Singaporeans and free things have an inseparable affinity. I had forgotten too soon floodgates of people during the free-entry period for local attractions for the SG50 celebrations. The place was relatively packed, with schoolkids and families in tow, the elderly as well. I also saw Catherine Lim and Low Kay Hwa browsing around the exhibits.

Here are some of the pieces that caught my eye.

Education of the next generation during the post-war years
This is a 6-foot long rectangular box propped up standing, with the Malaysian Crest draped over its surface.


A giant tower of bak chor mee bowls – something all Singaporeans identify


And some other shots of the general layout inside the building.

The entrance
HTHT space
One of the exhibition halls.
Mesmerized crowds.
The link bridge conjoining the originally 2 separate buildings into one.
The venue LKY had his first cabinet sworn in.
Posh hallway reminiscent of a scene in some Ivy League.



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