A child experiencing an exhibit at the Singapore Art Museum.

Photo by Singapore Art Museum

While Singapore boasts many fine museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) holds a special place in the hearts of local artists and aficionados, and is the perfect destination for those who live to be inspired.

A museum that’s wholly dedicated to contemporary art—with a finger on the pulse of the latest trends, expressions and innovations—this vibrant space is a platform, incubator and home to some of the region’s most talented artists.

Art, history and architecture
The exterior of the Singapore Art Museum

Photo by Singapore Art Museum

While its name suggests a single entity, the Singapore Art Museum is housed in two distinct buildings.

The main wing of the Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former building of the mission school of St Joseph’s Institute. This carefully conserved structure—first built in 1867—was designed in an architectural style that hearkens back to the European Renaissance.

It was gazetted as a national monument in 1992, repurposed as the Singapore Art Museum in 1996, and now boasts one of the most important collections of contemporary Southeast Asian art in the world.

Exterior and sign of SAM at 8Q, an extension of Singapore Art Museum

SAM at 8Q is the funkier sister to the Singapore Art Museum. An extension of the main building, this art space is so named for its location along Queen Street, and because it takes approximately 88 steps to reach this annex from the main building.

Formerly the grounds of Singapore’s Catholic High School, this four-storey building showcases exhibitions from some of the region’s most promising young artists.

A living, breathing art space

Exhibitions at the Singapore Art Museum change every few months, and come in a multitude of different art forms, from paintings and sculptures to installation art and interactive media.

Past exhibitions have included the Human Archive Project—an intimate look into the inner worlds of individuals from all walks of life—and Cinerama, which explored the artistry of Southeast Asian films.

Besides its own range of contemporary art exhibitions, SAM at 8Q boasts programming that caters to families and children. A regular annual installation series— entitled Imaginarium—has returned every year since 2009, with themes that range from explorations of space and time to journeys into nature and sensory exploration.

More than just an art space, SAM at 8Q also serves as an incubator for some of the Lion City’s most talented young artists. Established in 2001, The President’s Young Talents exhibition counts various luminaries of Singapore’s creative scene amongst its ranks. These include award-winning director Boo Junfeng, multi-hyphenate talent Heman Chong and arts collective Vertical Submarine.