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National Gallery – Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s – 1990s

June 14, 2019 @ 8:00 amSeptember 15, 2019 @ 5:00 pm SMT

National Gallery - Awakenings- Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s

Tang Da Wu. They Poach the Rhino, Chop Off His Horn and Make This Drink. 1989. Linen rhino, plastic bottles, and ax, dimensions variable. Documentation of performance at the National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore, 1989. Performance © Tang Da Wu. Photo © Koh Nuang How; image courtesy of Koh Nuang How.

This exhibition investigates how experimental artists acted as catalysts for change during some of Asia’s most turbulent decades. It spotlights artistic responses to major global events such as the Cold War and explores how artists challenged political, social and artistic conventions.

Co-organised by National Gallery Singapore, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Japan Foundation Asia Center, Awakenings draws connections across Asia through over 150 artworks by important artists from China, India, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.


National Gallery Singapore is a progressive visual arts institution which oversees the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Situated at the birthplace of modern Singapore, in the heart of the Civic District, the Gallery is housed in two national monuments – City Hall and former Supreme Court – that have been beautifully restored and transformed into this exciting 64,000 square meters venue. Reflecting Singapore’s unique heritage and geographical location, the Gallery creates dialogues between the art of Singapore, Southeast Asia, and the world to foster and inspire a creative and inclusive society. This is reflected in our collaborative research, education, long-term and special exhibitions, and innovative programming. The Gallery also works with international museums such as Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay, and Tate Britain to jointly present Southeast Asian art in the global context, positioning Singapore as a key node in the global visual arts scene.

In 2018, the Gallery was the only museum in Southeast Asia that received a ranking in The Art Newspaper’s annual global survey of attendance at museums and took the 38th place. It is also the first museum in Asia to receive the Children in Museums Award by the European Museum Academy and Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums. It also won the awards for “Best Theme Attraction” at TTG Travel Awards 2017, “Best Attraction Experience”, “Breakthrough Contribution to Tourism” and “Best Customer Service (Attractions)” at the prestigious Singapore Tourism Awards in 2016 for its role in adding to the vibrancy of Singapore’s tourism landscape.


A progressive art museum that fosters and inspires a thoughtful, creative and inclusive society.


We create dialogues between the art of Singapore, Southeast Asia, and the world through collaborative research, education, and exhibitions.

We provide a memorable experience through outstanding collections and innovative programming in a historical landmark.

History of the building

National Gallery Singapore occupies two national monuments: former Supreme Court and City Hall.

Landmarks of Singapore’s colonial past and journey to independence, the buildings have borne witness to many pivotal events in the nation’s history.

Take a look at the timeline below to find out the key milestones in their history.

Plans were drawn up by the Architects’ Department to build the Municipal Building. The Municipal Building was completed and declared open on 23 July 1929. Plans for a new Supreme Court were approved and Frank Dorrington Ward’s design for the building was unveiled to the public. Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Thomas Shenton Whitelegge Thomas, laid the foundation stone of the Supreme Court building on 1 April 1937. Underneath it is a time capsule containing newspapers dated 31 March 1937 and currency from the Straits Settlements.

It is due to be retrieved in the year 3000. Opening of the former Supreme Court building by Sir Thomas Shenton Whitelegge Thomas. The Japanese occupied Singapore, renaming it as Syonan. The headquarters of the Syonan Tokubetsu Shi (Municipal Administration) was set up in the Municipal Building Singapore and Supreme Court was used as the Syonan Supreme Court.

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces on 12 September 1945, on behalf of the Allied forces in the City Hall building. Singapore was declared a City and the Municipal Building was renamed the City Hall building.


June 14, 2019 @ 8:00 am SMT
September 15, 2019 @ 5:00 pm SMT
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National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road
Singapore, 178957 Singapore
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