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Singapore Art Museum

Singapore Art Museum (56)

This great museum, popularly called the SAM, was opened in 1996 with the clear objective of promoting and preserving both Singaporean and Southeast Asian art history and contemporary art. It quickly became the museum with the most important art collection in the region, including works by internationally acclaimed artists.  

As you can see, the SAM is an internationally renowned art museum, both for its facilities and its artwork as well as for the great work done here. For this reason, it is part of the same international art ciruit as the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Shanghai Art Museum.

The building that houses the museum was once a school. Founded in 1852 by 6 La Salle brothers, it was called the St Joseph's Institute, the first Catholic school in Singapore. In fact, the school’s first building was shaped like a chapel, but the rapid growth of the Singaporean population meant that a makeshift building had to be added on. Therefore, on 19 March 1855, on St. Joseph’s day, the first foundation stone was laid for the new school.

In 1987 the school moved out and the building was declared a national monument. Five years later, restoration work began before it finally opened as a museum in January 1996. The work was supervised by architect Hooe Wai Wong, who achieved an elegant balance between the old architecture and all the new features.  For example, the former school chapel was beautifully converted into an auditorium, several classrooms were joined together to form an open space, and the Glass Hall was created as a truly transparent box. Indeed, this multi-coloured glass work hanging from these transparent walls is by the  American Dale Chihuly. Without a doubt, it forms a whole of unique contrasts.

Come in and walk through its different rooms to capture the essence of the most contemporary artistic concepts. Also, if you're unfamiliar with this type of art, we recommend you opt for a guided tour by one of the centre’s professional guides.  In less than an hour they will give you a general idea of what is happening in contemporary Southeast Asian art today.

Admire its paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and multimedia installations, among other things. In all, it has more than 7,500 works of modern and contemporary art and more than 1,000 in the Tyler Print Collection, which includes such 20th Century artists as Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein.

The museum is so important that in only a few years it has had exhibitions on the genius Leonardo Da Vinci, Marc Chagall, German art of the '60s and '70s, modern art in France or even on the Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

Also, if you are a true art lover, we strongly recommend that you also visit the 8Q SAM, opened on 15 August 2008. It is located at number 8 Queen Street, just steps from here. 88 to be exact.  It is a multidisciplinary art space where the public can experience the work and the ideas of contemporary artists. Very specifically, it is a centre that supports and promotes experimental art in search of new ideas and new forms of expression. It's easy to find installations, performances or other artistic activities.

As you can see, in Singapore art is alive and constantly moving. It is a pleasure that centres of such high quality allow us to enjoy art in all its forms.

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