Where to see (and feed your curious mind with) rare masterpieces, historical artefacts, revolutionary sculptures, thought-provoking paintings and cultural relics
As a booming cultural hub, Singapore has attracted loads of art and big-name museum exhibitions in recent years, from historic Southeast Asian pieces to ground-breaking art exhibitions by famous painters. The best part? Most of these museums offer free admission to locals and permanent residents. But don’t just pop by the museums – the city’s also dotted with independent art galleries with works by both established and up-and-coming artists.
National Museum of Singapore
If you want to know more about this little red dot, the National Museum of Singapore is the place to go. Established in 1887, the oldest museum in Singapore delivers Singapore’s history and culture through live performances and modern multi-media exhibits. Permanent galleries to visit here include the Singapore History Gallery, which charts the development of the city, as well as its newest addition: the Glass Rotunda, made up of two immersive art installations including the breathtaking digital exhibition called the Story of the Forest inspired by the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, p. 6332 3659. Open 10am-7pm daily.
Singapore Art Museum
Once a catholic boys’ school St. Joseph Institute for 135 years, the beautiful historic building now holds a fine selection of contemporary artworks across Southeast Asia. Put aside your entire day when you visit this place: the art museum has over 7,000 permanent art pieces. Enjoy complimentary entry on Friday from 6pm to 9pm.
Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555, p. 6589 9580. Open 10am-7pm daily.
Art Science Museum
Combining art, science, design, media, architecture and technology, Art Science Museum has housed notable exhibits and works from iconic artists including Andy Warhol, Salvatore Dali and Leonardo da Vinci. A permanent, must-visit exhibit is Future World, which features interactive digital installations and is refreshed every few months.
ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974, p. 6688 8888. Admission times at 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 5.30pm (last entry).
Mint Museum of Toys
Mint – also known as Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys – is the world’s first museum purpose-built museum for toys and is valued to be over $5 million. That’s a lot of toys! Relive your childhood memories as you browse through the 50,000 vintage playthings collected from different eras including pre-WWII.
Mint Museum of Toys, 26 Seah Street, Singapore 188382, p. 6339 0660. Open 9.30am-6.30pm daily, 9.30am-9.30pm every last Sat of the month.
Asian Civilisations Museum
You’ll want to put aside a whole afternoon for this sprawling museum. The Asian Civilisations Museum presents over five thousand years of recorded history through a diverse collection of Asian artefacts, including detailed sculptures of Buddha and the Gandhara culture. The museum is located along the Singapore River, so you can grab a beer at Timbre after you’re done.
Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place Singapore 179555, p. 6332 7798. Open Sat-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-9pm.
Located in a quaint three-storey Peranakan shophouse located along Armenian Street, the sister museum to the Asian Civilisations Museum, also first of its kind in the world, showcases collections of Peranakan items including jewellery, furniture and art. Go on and get a glimpse into the grand lifestyle of this prominent community.
Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941, p. 6332 7591. Open 10am-7pm daily, Fri 10am-9pm.
Parkview Museum Singapore
Singapore’s very own ‘Gotham City’ building – or as it’s officially called, Parkview Square – has just opened a contemporary art museum within its ritzy Art Deco premises. Known simply as Parkview Museum Singapore, the private gallery launches with a strident start, touching on the tenacious topic of shark protection and ocean conservation. Titled “On Sharks & Humanity”, this exhibition displays 33 engaging works from 29 artists, and these run the gamut from installations and paintings, to photography and videography. We also hear that there’ll be interactive activities rolled out in the coming months, suitable for culture vultures of all ages. Bonus: It’s free to enter.
On Sharks & Humanity, Level 3 Parkview Museum Singapore, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778. This exhibition runs from now ’til 9 September, and is open daily from 1pm to 7pm. Entry is free.
Singapore Philatelic Museum
This one’s for stamp enthusiasts – the Singapore Philatelic Museum celebrates the hobby and features private collections of philatelists as well as international and themed exhibitions. Head here to see interesting stamps from Singapore’s past and present.
Singapore Philatelic Museum, 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807, p. 6337 3888. Open 10am-7pm daily.
The Changi Museum
History buffs who want to know more about the tumultuous period in Singapore during WWII should make a trip down to this war museum. Documenting significant events of the Japanese occupation in Singapore, The Changi Museum serves as a memorial for those who fought and suffered during those dark years.
The Changi Museum, 1000 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707, p. 6214 245. Open 9.30am-5pm daily.
National Gallery Singapore
Something major happened in the art world when National Gallery Singapore (NGS) opened. It houses the largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art in the world, opened after ten years in the making. And it certainly isn’t a modest place; the building alone is breathtaking, the facilities are state-of-the-art, there are some amazing restaurants, and, perhaps most importantly, the stories from within are a reflection Singapore’s history, values and vision. Wanna go in-depth? Read more about this landmark in our National Gallery Singapore guide.
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957. Open Sun-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm.
This ex-deserted colonial barracks-turned-cool art enclave is the go-to spot for those seeking a dose of contemporary art with its 10 distinctive art galleries. Expect an impressive showcase at ARNDT (open ’til 25 May 2017) ; the Asian branch of the prominent art gallery in Berlin features emerging talents as well as international established artists from upcoming art landscapes in Asia. Swing over to Forbidden World to marvel at the use of chewing gum as a medium for universal issues. Folks with a penchant for Japanese art must make it a point to visit Mizuma Gallery and Ota Fine Arts – known for curating snazzy exhibitions by renowned Japanese artists. To support local pride, check Fost Gallery that pays special focus to emerging local artists, and Yeo Workshop, a contemporary art gallery that not only curates intriguing exhibitions by both local and international artists, but also hosts interesting programmes that give art lovers a chance to engage with talented artists in Singapore.
Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Rd, Singapore 108937.
Goodman Arts Centre
Tucked away within the heritage-rich Mountbatten precinct, Goodman Arts Centre is seven acres of art goodness – housing the National Arts Council of Singapore, two F&B outlets, 37 arts and creatives group and over 40 shared facilities for rental for the arts aficionados. Must-see galleries include Institute of Critical Zoologists (helmed by Robert Zhao – a nominee for ‘Best Emerging Artist Using Photography’ at the prestigious Prudential Eye Awards 2016) where you get to learn more about the intricate relations between animals and urban societies; OH! Open house, the brainchild behind Singapore’s only art walkabout that transforms private spaces in neighbourhoods into an art haven; and Donna Ong where you get to appreciate sculpture installations, films and drawings that internalise childhood dreams and hopes.
Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Rd, Singapore 439053, p. 6342 5790.
Tanjong Pagar Distripark
Art galleries at a warehouse? It cannot get any cooler than this. At Tanjong Pagar Distripark, you are able to spot several art galleries hidden within the vicinity of the warehouse. Here, you can find the fairly renowned Ikkan Art International that houses Singapore-based visual artist, Sherman Ong’s masterpieces. Then head over to Gajah Gallery that presents galleries of work from artists around the region.
Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road Singapore 089065, p. 6377 6182.
Kult Gallery is a lowbrow urban style gallery located at Emily Hill, showcasing works from both local and international artists. This gallery aims to promote young street artists and illustrators, shining a spotlight on future talents you must get acquainted with. Here, you can definitely find signed editions, original works and other obscure pieces which defy the conventional and challenge the norm. It is a constantly evolving space giving you a different experience every time you visit.
Kult Gallery, Blk C2-5, Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie Rd, Singapore 228120, p. 63381066. Open Mon-Fri 12am-7pm; Sat 2pm-7pm. Closed on Sun.
Established with the aim to support and nurture the community of photography enthusiasts in Singapore and beyond, DECK is a fun independent communal art space that can expose you to the growing photography scene and teach you more about photography art. At DECK, there is a gallery, library, activity studio, artist’s studio and café within the 19 magnificent shipping containers (yes, shipping containers; how’s that for peculiar?).
DECK, 120A Prinsep Street, Singapore 187937, p. 67346578. Open Tue-Sat 12pm-7pm; Sun 12pm-5pm. Closed on Mon.