Singapore Supreme: The New National Gallery Singapore

Courtesy National Gallery Singapore

Retrofitting two colonial institutions into one art powerhouse.

Two of Singapore’s most impressive colonial-era buildings—the onetime Supreme Court and City Hall overlooking downtown’s historic cricket pitch on the Padang—have found a new purpose as the joint site for the National Gallery Singapore. Unveiled in November, the institution boasts the largest collection of Southeast Asian art in the world. 

The $380 million project involved the creation of a soaring roof canopy to link the two buildings, held up by tree-like columns. Its perforated aluminum panels play off the city-state’s relentless sunshine, casting dappled shade inside while allowing the exterior to shimmer. The Corinthian columns on the façade, meanwhile, have been restored to their original luster, and the furniture is now the same color it was when the buildings first opened, in 1939. 

Nearly twice the size of London's Tate Modern, the gallery will host permanent and temporary exhibitions: The inaugural show from its collection, “Siapa Nama Kamu?” (“What’s Your Name?”), provides a snapshot of Singaporean art from the 19th century to the present day, while an exhibit focusing on modernism in Southeast Asia, cocurated by Paris’s Centre Pompidou, will begin in March. 1 Saint Andrew’s Rd.; 65/6271-7000;