National Gallery receives millionth visitor

The Chia family, comprising (from right) Mr Chia, his wife Madam Non, and daughters Yuan Ting, 13, and Kar Kar, 10, took "a ride" at the 3D installation depicting the artwork, "Life by the River" by local artist Liu Kang.
The Chia family, comprising (from right) Mr Chia, his wife Madam Non, and daughters Yuan Ting, 13, and Kar Kar, 10, took "a ride" at the 3D installation depicting the artwork, "Life by the River" by local artist Liu Kang.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Chia family made their first visit to the National Gallery Singapore yesterday to spend time together ahead of Fathers' Day today.

"We did a lot of research on the museums to decide where to go. In the end, it was my little girl who decided that we should go there," said Madam Non Kam Foong, 43, a product development manager who was at the museum with her two daughters aged 10 and 13 and husband Ricky Chia, 47, a foreman.

They became the objects of fanfare, complete with a live performance and confetti, when they entered together as the millionth visitor to the museum since it opened seven months ago.

Mr Chia said: "We are extremely surprised to be the millionth visitor. The building is spectacular and we cannot wait to check out the exhibitions and the restaurants."

The family is already planning to return to view the open spaces in The Gallery and enjoy the city skyline from there, he said.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, the guest of honour, presented the family with a gift pack that entitles them to an exclusive private tour and VIP invitations to the opening of The Gallery's upcoming exhibition.

The museum, which focuses on art from Singapore and South-east Asia, has had a constant stream of visitors made up of 70 per cent Singaporeans and 30 per cent foreigners, said its chief executive Chong Siak Ching. "Beyond numbers, the positive feedback we've received from our visitors so far - be it for our programmes, exhibitions, or front of house service - have been highly encouraging," she said.

She said a reason visitors find The Gallery attractive is that it is housed in "two of Singapore's key national monuments, the iconic former Supreme Court and City Hall".

"Many visitors are fascinated by the stunning architecture and how the buildings have transformed and function as a new visual arts institution," she said, adding that The Gallery has the world's largest public collection of modern Singapore and South-east Asian art from the 20th century to the present.

Ms Fu said: "Such an iconic building, and when you use that for art, I think it tells us the importance that we place in art.

"We hope this (The Gallery) will encourage more to pursue art, and also for more Singaporeans to appreciate art, and make art appreciation a part of their daily lives."

In celebration of the millionth visitor, The Gallery's open house, Common Grounds, which was held earlier this month, will be back this weekend.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'National Gallery receives millionth visitor'. Print Edition | Subscribe