SAM appoints new museum director

National Gallery Singapore's director Eugene Tan.
National Gallery Singapore's director Eugene Tan.

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) will have a new director from April 1 - the first person to fill these shoes in three years.

Taking up the mantle will be the National Gallery Singapore's director Eugene Tan who will retain his role at the gallery while helming SAM.

The contemporary art museum in Bras Basah Road had experienced a leadership vacuum following the exits of museum director Susie Lingham and chief executive officer Leng Tshua in 2016.

It began a search for people to fill these roles, but later decided to cease the search and run under the guidance of its board executive committee.

SAM's buildings are closed for redevelopment works. The $90-million facelift is slated for completion in 2021.

As the director of National Gallery Singapore since 2013, Dr Tan curated major exhibitions on modernism and minimalism and also spearheaded partnerships with international museums, including the Tate in Britain, Centre Pompidou in France and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul.

Before joining the gallery, he oversaw the development of the Gillman Barracks arts district with the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Dr Tan was also director of contemporary art at Sotheby's Institute of Art - Singapore and director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

He was also co-curator of the inaugural Singapore Biennale in 2006 and curator for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Mr Edmund Cheng, who chairs the SAM Board, says: "We are at an important juncture for our museum's development as we undergo a major revamp of our premises."

"We have great confidence in Dr Tan's ability to make a positive impact and advance SAM's role as a leading museum of contemporary art through a shared vision and strong collaboration with our curators, programmers and SAM team."

Dr Tan says SAM "has an important and distinct role to play as the beacon of creativity and inspiration for our public in Singapore and South-east Asia".

He adds: "I look forward to contributing to this exciting future for SAM to become a globally leading contemporary art museum for the 21st century, to play a role in defining global discourses on the nature of art and its role in our societies and to using my roles as director of SAM and National Gallery Singapore to engage our public and the arts community in Singapore in a more holistic way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'SAM appoints new museum director'. Print Edition | Subscribe