SINGAPORE - The National Gallery Singapore, a vision in the works for a decade, was unveiled on Monday (Nov 23) night by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before it opens to the public on Tuesday (Nov 24).
The $532 million museum, housed in the breathtakingly restored buildings of the former Supreme Court and City Hall, is the first museum of such scale in the world dedicated to the art of Singapore and South-east Asia.
The by-invite event on Monday night welcomed some 500 guests, including artists, donors and community leaders, to tour the 64,000 sq m museum, which includes the DBS Singapore Gallery and UOB Southeast Asia Gallery.
The two permanent galleries display some 800 works of art from the 19th century through to modern day. This includes paintings by pioneer Singapore artists Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Wen Hsi, and forerunners of modern art in the region such as Indonesia's Raden Saleh and Hernando R. Ocampo of the Philippines.
The opening ceremony was held at the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, which will present an exhibition on the modernist movement in April, curated with France's Centre Pompidou. There, guests were given a preview of the facade show that will be held this weekend.
The light and sound display, a highlight of the opening celebrations, will project animated images of iconic works from the museum's collection, including Cheong Soo Pieng's Drying Salted Fish and Chua Mia Tee's Epic Poem Of Malaya, across the front of the museum's buildings.
The opening weekend will also host a carnival that spills out of the museum and onto the Padang, with roads in the area closed to traffic. The outdoor block party from Friday to Sunday will run from 5pm to midnight and include art workshops, interactive installations and food stalls at the Padang.
Admission to the museum's galleries and exhibitions will also be free for all visitors during the opening fortnight, from Tuesday to Dec 6. The museum is open during this period from 10am to 7pm, Mondays to Thursdays, and 10am to 11pm from Fridays to Sundays.
Two other exhibitions will open on Thursday - a historical survey of the career of renowned Singapore artist Chua Ek Kay and a show of more than 80 paintings by famed Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong, who donated 113 works to Singapore's national collection in 2008.