National Gallery gets $16m boost

The donation by Ngee Ann Development to the museum will support research and exhibitions

The National Gallery Singapore received a $16-million boost yesterday from Ngee Ann Development for its research and curatorial work.

The donation from the real estate company will be used for exhibitions that further the understanding of modern art from Singapore and South-east Asia.

Ngee Ann Development is a long-time supporter of the arts and its gift to the museum marks its biggest donation to the arts.

Its other beneficiaries have included the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Esplanade, as well as the upcoming Singapore Biennale.

To commemorate the donation, the museum's auditorium, foyer and Concourse Gallery 1 will be named after Ngee Ann Kongsi, the philanthropic organisation that is the major shareholder of the corporation.

Mr Richard Lee, 58, chairman of the corporation, told The Straits Times that it was so impressed with the museum's building and extensive collection of art from South- east Asia that it decided to "double our stake" and make a more generous donation than it had considered when talks with the museum began.

The museum's chief executive, Ms Chong Siak Ching, 58, said in her speech at the cheque presentation ceremony yesterday that Ngee Ann Development's contribution continues the "positive trend of giving to the arts", following a record amount of donations to the arts last year during Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

Since the museum's opening, its auditorium and foyer have been used to hold art talks, lectures and seminars, while the concourse gallery recently presented an exhibition featuring works by three ground-breaking South-east Asian artists.

The Ngee Ann Kongsi Concourse Gallery will hold its first exhibition next month on master potter Iskandar Jalil. The show will survey the potter's decades-long practice and feature almost 200 works.

The company joins a string of other high-profile corporate donors to the museum, which marks its first anniversary in November.

They include DBS Bank, which donated $25 million and 26 artworks from its corporate art collection, and the United Overseas Bank Group, which contributed an undisclosed amount in addition to sharing its art collection of more than 1,500 works.

The museum's permanent galleries on Singapore and South-east Asian art are each named after the two corporate donors.

The museum's other corporate donors include Singtel, which donated $20 million and has the special exhibitions gallery named after it, and Keppel Corp, which donated $12 million to the museum's youth-oriented Centre for Art Education.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'National Gallery gets $16m boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe