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Published March 21st 2016
The largest gallery in Singapore
National Gallery opened with a bang on 24th November 2015. The gallery showcases the world's largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art with over 8,000 artworks. The gallery occupies both the former Supreme Court and former City Hall which is connected through link bridges and a new basement level.
National Gallery Front Façade facing the Padang
The total costs spent to renovate and refurbish the gallery was $532 million. The façade, the Surrender Chamber, the office of Singapore's founding Prime Minister and the panels in four rooms of the Supreme Court are items that are prohibited from any forms of alteration. It holds a record being the largest visual arts venue and largest museum in Singapore with a combined floor area of 64,000 square meters.
If you are a historical buff or a architectural buff, the rotunda is a must-see. The former Supreme Court was built exemplifying British colonial architecture, with four blocks of offices and courtrooms surrounding a central rotunda with a dome that was originally used to house a circular law library. It was the last classical building to be built in Singapore.
Highlights are Wu Guanzhong & Chua Ek Kay Exhibitions. The exhibition on Chua Ek Kay: After The Rain will be the first of its kind which is based on a historical survey of the Cultural Medallion recipient's career by a national museum. It will feature seminal works by the late artist and his favourite subjects, which are Singapore cityscape and reflections on nature. The artist was born in China and migrated to Singapore at a very young age. Chua is multi-talented as shown in his calligraphy, poetry, the Shanghai School of ink painting, and Western art. His notable artwork shown here is After the Rain (2004).
The exhibition, Wu Guanzhong: Beauty Beyond Form, features more than 80 oil and ink paintings, including 22 pieces on loan from key art institutions in China and Hong Kong. Many of this maestro's works will be on display for the first time in Singapore. The late China-born artist donated a huge quantity of his works to Singapore.
One of the highlights is the gigantic size of painting by Raden Saleh from Indonesia. He produced Boschbrand (Forest Fire) the artwork in 1849 as gift to his patron King William III of the Netherlands in 1850. Visitors could see the strong European influence in his artwork as the artist lived in Europe for 20 years.
So many famous artists' artworks are presented in the myriads of chambers! Chinese artists such as Wu GuangZhong, Xu Beihong and Singapore pioneer artists such as Georgette Chen, Chen Chong Swee, Liu Kang, Chen Wen Hsi, Fan Chang Tien, Chua Ek Kay, Lim Hak Tai followed by Ng Eng Teng - the grandfather of Singapore sculptures, Anthony Poon, Ang Ah Tee, Chua Mia Tee, Brother Joseph McNally and the likes of Ong Kim Seng, Zai Kuning.
From Indonesia, visitors could see the works of maestros Basoeki Abdullah, Hendra Gunawan, Adrien-Jean le Mayeur de Merprès, Lee Man Fong. Followed by younger generation of artists like FX Harsono and few more.
Juan Luna's España Y Filipinas painting represented earlier era of artwork from Philippines. There are a couple of artworks from Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.
Another must-see thing is go to the roof top level. Pose a selfie with the view of Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, and the Padang in the background.
Rooftop terrace and garden
To satisfy your tastebuds, there are restaurants, cafes and bars from level 1 to the roof top: Aura, Odette, Yàn, Smoke & Mirrors, National Kitchen by Violet Oon, SAHA and The Altimate by The Padang FNB.
If you want to buy goods from local designers, shop at The Gallery & Co.
Free guided tours are valid for ticket holders:
Highlights of Beauty Beyond the Form and After The Rain will be conducted every Saturday and Sunday at 4.30pm (English) and 2pm (Mandarin).
DBS Singapore Gallery Highlights Tour will be offered at 2pm daily (English) and 2.30pm Friday to Sunday (Mandarin).
UOB Southeast Asia Gallery Highlights Tour will be held at 3.30pm daily (English) and 4pm Friday to Sunday (Mandarin).
If you are curious about these marvellous structures, Building Highlights Tour is offered at 11am daily (English) and 11.30am (Mandarin).