Singapore is a city that at times seems driven by business and money, yet many newcomers are surprised to find that the arts and cultural scene is extremely diverse. There’s a wide array of festivals, concerts and art gallery openings throughout the year, with an overall focus that feels globally inspired yet uniquely Asian. These are some of the city’s top spots to view world-class exhibitions and artworks, theatre and much more.
The newest kid on the block, this unique national monument was inspired by a lotus flower, with each of the ten petals – or fingers – is a gallery space, the tallest of which stands 60 metres high. Recent exhibitions have included Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal. The ArtScience Museum sits in front of the Marina Bay Shoppes, near the Double Helix Bridge. Closest MRT stations: Promenade and Marina Bay.
2. Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
SAM houses the national art collection of Singapore and boasts the largest collection of 20th-century Southeast Asian art. Unfortunately, space limitations mean that only 200 of the 8,000 works can be exhibited. This is set to change with the opening of the National Art Gallery in 2015.
Over 120 years old, the biggest museum in Singapore recently underwent a complete renovation. Housed in a stunning neo-classical building on Stamford Road near Fort Canning Park, the museum’s attractions include the 2,800 square metre Singapore History gallery, four creative “living” galleries and various interactive installations. Onsite restaurant Nova serves great food, too.
Located across the river from Boat Quay and the Fullerton Hotel, the ACM boasts 11 galleries showcasing over 1,300 artefacts from China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia. The museum’s objective is to increase awareness about the rich cultures that make up Singapore’s multi-ethnic society.
The Peranakans were part Chinese, part Malay, and part descended from the original non-Malay inhabitants of Singapore. The Peranakan Museum, around the corner from the National Museum, houses ten permanent galleries that explore the various aspects of Peranakan life, including the elaborate 12-day Peranakan wedding, the role of Nonyas (Peranakan women) and food and feasting.
Stamp collectors will love the Singapore Philatelic Museum , whose collection dates back to the Straits Settlements. Mint is the world’s first purpose-built museum for toys. Opened in May 2006, it exhibits a wide range of vintage toys including Tintin collectables, exclusive teddy bear collections and Astroboy figurines. Popular contemporary art galleries include REDSEA at Dempsey Hill, Ode To Art (two spaces: Marina Bay Sands and Raffles City), Art Plural Gallery (Armenian Street) and Opera Gallery (ION Orchard).