Sneak Peek @ “Naked Museum”

Last Sunday, Musings on the M49 was fortunate enough to be invited to the National Gallery Singapore’s “Naked Museum” tour which offered a sneak peek of the premises minus the artworks. Housed in two national monuments City Hall and former Supreme Court and restructured to the tune of S$500 million,  the visual art institution is sure to become one of top attractions in the country come October.
L1100444 (800x534)The tour started at the City Hall end at The Singapore Courtyard (above) which is a new structure carved out of the former carpark and which is quite cool as its woody texture adds some warm colour and texture to the mostly stark white “stone and mortar” feel of the 1929 building. Sited outside the DBS Singapore Gallery which will feature Singapore art from the 19th century to the present, the space will likely be renamed as The DBS Singapore Courtyard.
L1100451 (800x534)From the courtyard staircase, visitors will arrive at The Chamber which is the biggest room in the City Hall building and has these magnificent marble columns. Infamously known as the site where the Surrender of Singapore was signed, the nice museum guides reminded us that this was also the place where our first President Yusof Ishak was inaugurated and where Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in as our first Prime Minister in 1959. Yes, preserved this room we must….
L1100476 (800x534)The City Hall Rooftop is going to be a real happening place with lots of F&B options. It has two levels – on Level 5 you’ll find two reflection pools (for fengshui reasons, no less), art installations and lots of greens …
L1100471 (800x534)… while Level 6 has a public viewing deck which offers great panoramic viewd of the Padang and the Civic District, not to mention, a fabulous bird eye’s view of the Singapore F1 raceways!
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Linking the City Hall and former Supreme Court Buildings are two skybridges and they hung over the Gallery atrium which will serve as the main entrance. The design here by Studio Milou Singapore, which features giant metallic tree-like structures holding up leaf-shewn shades, is to give an impression that people are walking through a tropical rainforest. Nice…

L1100495 (800x534)We are now over at the Supreme Court side on a newly-created terrace that was formerly the  rooftop which was never opened to the public. Now the area is an air-conditioned “resting area” where visitors can find restrooms, benches, drink machines and also view the amazing Rotunda room dome which officially marks the centre of the 1939 building (and not the iconic green dome which stands stall on the outside).  Walk round the rotunda, and a staircase plus a door will bring you to…
L1100504 (800x577)…the historical lobby of the former Supreme Court. Pretty much of everything from the past – the flooring, the ceiling, the judges’ honour roll, etc – has been conserved. Had the chance to see this area here at a previous press conference so the thrill for me here was…
L1100515 (800x534)… stepping out to the Balcony which may not be opened to the public when the Gallery opens. Which will be a pity really as there is so much history to be learnt from the building’s facade characterised by its tall Corinthian columns and which offers a great view of the Padang area as well. Let’s hope the powers that be changed their minds by then. They can always limit the number of people allowed on the balcony…
L1100521 (800x570)The other thrill was finally getting to see what they have done to the courtrooms and corridors and really, they have done a brilliant job. At Level 3 where the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery will be sited,  spaces such as the Rotunda Library (above) and various courtrooms were impressive and make for decent rooms where artworks can be appreciated.
L1100536 (800x545)Last but not least, the area I was dying to see was – whether the holding cells used for housing prisoners during their trials were still intact… Well, two of them are (above) – preserved and located within the Gallery’s office, complete with the toilet flushing tanks outside the cells (to prevent prisoner’s from killing themselves with the chains…)

Not sure if they will be accessible to the public when the Gallery opens but they sure are a fascinating part of Singapore’s history, just as is the time capsule said to be buried underneath the eight-sided foundation stone in the Supreme Court Foyer that contains Singapore newspapers from 1937 and a handful of Straits Settlements coins is scheduled to be opened in the year 3000….

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All in all. Sure is “something old, something new” to look forward to come October. Wished we had such restoration technology back then when we could have saved other historical buildings like the National Theatre….


One comment on “Sneak Peek @ “Naked Museum”

  1. […] (The beautiful view above of the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and Marina Bay Sands was taken from Aura, a bar and lounge which lies atop the National Gallery Singapore.) […]


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