National Gallery welcomes over 1.5m visitors

Visitors viewing the artworks at the National Gallery Singapore. More than 60 activities, including a light show on the facade of the museum, will be held as part of its first anniversary celebrations.
Visitors viewing the artworks at the National Gallery Singapore. More than 60 activities, including a light show on the facade of the museum, will be held as part of its first anniversary celebrations.ST FILE PHOTO

Visual arts museum will celebrate its first anniversary with free shows over 2 weekends

Since the National Gallery Singapore opened last November, more than 1.5 million visitors have passed through its doors.

In its first quarter alone, its permanent exhibitions drew 463,172 visits while its non-permanent shows, including exhibitions on ink masters Wu Guanzhong and Chua Ek Kay, attracted 266,899 visits.

"In the time of one year, we have launched nine exhibitions, thousands of different programmes and it's been an exhilarating journey," said the museum's chief executive Chong Siak Ching. To mark the milestone year and support from the public, the museum is launching its first-year celebrations over two consecutive weekends, from Nov 25.

More than 60 activities, including an art and design market, interactive art installations and a light show on the facade of the museum will take place. The museum will also stay open till 3am over the two weekends for music performances in its Padang Atrium. The programme features well-known Singapore musicians such as Charlie Lim and Nathan Hartono.

The exhibition galleries, on the other hand, will open till midnight and admission to all the exhibitions will be free over the two weekends.

The slew of wide-ranging activities aims to woo the public to "explore and develop a deeper interest in art and its history", said Ms Chong. This approach follows its efforts to expose new audiences to its space and galleries and have the art appreciation bug rub off on them. One way it has been doing so is by being a venue partner for non-visual arts events such as the recent Singapore Fashion Week and ongoing Singapore Writers Festival.

Health psychologist Y. Y. Low, 41, who was recently at the museum for Fashion Week and also regularly visits the exhibitions with her 10-year-old daughter, said the museum's presentation of works is proof that it is "fast catching up" to its counterparts in Europe which have long histories.

The museum, however, is not resting on its laurels. Ms Chong shared at the anniversary celebrations press briefing yesterday some of its plans for the year ahead.

For one, it will "bring art out of the galleries" and install more works in its public spaces. It will also support the National University of Singapore in its roll-out of a minor in art history, with curators from the museum teaching some courses in the programme.

And come May, it will launch an art biennale for children. Its director of education and programmes, Ms Suenne Megan Tan, said it will commission artists to create between eight and 10 interactive, immersive works for young children. In conjunction with the biennale, it will also relaunch and refresh some of the works in its Keppel Centre for Art Education.

SEE LIFE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'National Gallery welcomes over 1.5m visitors'. Print Edition | Subscribe