As the museums close their doors for the time being, the collections of artefacts, paintings and sculptures are all nestled within the halls quietly waiting to tell their stories to the discerning visitors. And they can–all you have to do is plug in and explore them virtually.
Since travelling to Singapore is not possible now, we’ll bring a slice of Singapore to you instead–the world-class museums in our city of passion and possibilities. Imagine roaming the vast galleries with ease–no crowds to block your view–while spending hours comfortably in the company of art, history and culture.
Here’s a curated list of virtual tours, videos and photos of exhibitions from our diverse plethora of museums and galleries all unique in their own identities. Guess what–admission is free.
National Gallery Singapore
Step into the largest museum of modern Singapore and Southeast Asian art and delve into a wide range of collections from contemporary art to modernism and abstract art.
You’ll have the privilege of browsing through more than 8,000 works of art from Southeast Asia with a virtual tour of the National Gallery Singapore’s collection. Click explore museum to begin your virtual tour, where you’ll skip the elevator and arrive at the second level. Take your time to move about the vast gallery space.
Look out for the iconic painting National Language Class by Chua Mia Tee in 1959 and go back in time with the 1849 painting Panoramic View of Singapore from the Harbour by Robert Wilson Wiber. For the latter, spot the governor’s house atop Mount Faber.
Did you also see the famous words “Siapa Nama Kamu?” (What is your name? in Malay) written on the chalkboard in the National Language Class painting? The work was created in 1959, the year Singapore gained self-governance from the British.
Be careful where you click during your tour because there are statues around you, including a “firework-looking” sculpture lying on the floor–titled Family by Chong Fah Cheong. Explore from the basement to the upper levels simply by clicking on the numbers in the side panel.
There’s something for children too–head over to the first level where you’ll find a whimsical maze filled with colourful visuals of enchanted forests, animals (spot the Singapura tiger) and even a one-eyed tree.
And before you know it, you would have spent hours exploring the museum comfortably from your laptop–and in your pyjamas.
National Gallery Singapore.
Singapore Philatelic Museum
Although the Singapore Philatelic Museum is closed for redevelopment, you can still visit its premises virtually and explore past exhibits, which run the gamut from history of Singapore to special exhibits such as The Little Prince, Harry Potter and DC Super Heroes.
Dive into the Room of Rarities and you’ll find ancient stamps and stamp dispensing machines. Look out for the iconic postage box in a very conspicuous colour. Fans of the classic The Little Prince by Antonie de Saint-Exupery should head to the The Little Prince room to find stamps, philatelic materials, illustrations and sculptures by French pop artist Arnaud Nazare-Aga.
Did you know every stamp issue, starting from its first in 1966, has chronicled Singapore’s journey from rural kampong (village in Malay) to urban metropolis? Witness the transformation of our city at the Singapore Journey: 50 Years through Stamps where there are two separate rooms focusing on the history and built environment respectively. Here, you’ll find stamps commemorating everything iconic about Singapore from playgrounds, mascots to festivals, Victoria Concert Hall and Changi Airport.
Singapore Philatelic Museum.
Singapore Biennale 2019
The sixth edition of Singapore Biennale may be over after running for over four months from November 2019 to March 2020, but the show continues online with a photo gallery on Singapore Biennale’s Facebook page.
Browse photos after photos–40 to be precise–of selected works on display. Look out for Telling Stories from Inside and Outside by Veronica Troncoso. You’ll find beautiful fabric scrolls delving into stories of migration and mobility across different generations in Singapore.
Find yourself navigating an obstacle course, thanks to the challenging structures in An Obstacle in Every Direction by Nabilah Nordin, who encourages visitors to spend time exploring different possible routes.
Towards the end of the photo tour, spot some quirky installations, namely Intimate Apparitions by Khairullah Rahim where commonplace objects have been recomposed into less familiar creations. It invites you to examine the dual nature of public and private spaces such as the open field, gazebo, exercise corner and bedroom.
Singapore Biennale 2019.
National Museum of Singapore
The recently-concluded An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore mega exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore is returning less than a month later–online.
From 15 April, you can explore virtually 200 years of history dating back to the bustling world of trade in the East Indies that attracted the Dutch and British East India companies from the early 17th century. The narrative continues to the establishment of an entrepot in Singapore in 1819.
You’ll hear from the curators of the exhibition and explore artefacts in this virtual tour. Some of the artefacts are on loan from institutional and private collections, including personal collections and treasures from top international museums.
Look out for a pair of terrestrial and celestial globes from 1799, a chest with porcelain bottles by the East India Company, and East Sumatra-style keris (dagger) belonging to William Farquhar–appointed the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore–from the late 18th century.
Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore.
Not exactly a museum or an exhibition, but The Istana (which means palace in Malay) is worth a visit as it is the official office of the President of the Republic of Singapore. You can visit the Neo-Palladian style palace via a virtual tour and explore the rooms where very important dignitaries are honoured and entertained at state functions.
Start with the reception hall viewed in 360-degree splendour, where you’re actually standing on a silk and wool Persian carpet designed around a floral medallion. Spot the Louis XIV chairs made of mahogany and an abstract triptych painting.
Move across to the State Room where official presentations are held on a stage framed by deep red velvet curtains. You’ll also be drawn to the grand and spacious Banquet Hall–take a minute to feel the grandiose of the place. Tip: Look up to find a 220kg candelabra-type chandelier designed in 18th century Maria Theresa style.
The tour continues with photos of the cosier rooms upstairs–head up the resplendent grand staircase in Statuario white marble laid with a red Axminster woven runner carpet. Explore among the drawing rooms and verandahs to find exquisite furniture–mother-of-pearl inlaid chairs–and ornamental furnishings in this splendid historical site.