6 Must-See Art Exhibitions To Tickle Your Fancy

It’s time to kick aside the stereotype of art exhibitions being oh-so-boring. Our team set off on a hunt for interesting exhibitions in Singapore art museums that you can’t afford to miss. Here are our top 6 picks that might tickle your fancy!


#6: Room of Rarities (Permanent Galleries), Singapore Philatelic Museum

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As soon as you set foot in to the Singapore Philatelic Museum, you might feel an awfully familiar wave of nostalgia hitting you. Dedicated to Singapore’s rich postal history, the Room of Rarities boasts a splendid collection of stamps and rare philatelic items from the 1800s till the present day. The enthralling little space showcases unique mailboxes, pillar-boxes and fancy stamp designs that spans across almost 200 years. Get a taste of royalty from the rarities on display, such as the early Queen Victoria covers and postage stamps, as well as other archival materials of the three kings collection. In today’s technology-saturated world, communication is no longer limited to just traditional postal services. We have since grown accustomed to the digital generation, but for some of us, nothing beats the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding a handwritten letter sealed with your name.

Apart from the exhibitions and galleries, you will also find miniature models of mailboxes on the second level along the glass displays. It houses not only mailboxes from Singapore, but also from a variety of other countries including United States of America (USA), Spain, Greece, Hong Kong and China. Kudos to you if you managed to resist the charm of these adorable vintage mailboxes!

Head over to the Singapore Philatelic Museum and relive the good old memories of snail mail. There are four permanent galleries (Orange Room, Purple Room, Room of Rarities and Heritage Room) that you can explore in the museum. Even if you’re not an avid stamp collector, at least one of these galleries is bound to tickle your fancy. Trust me – it is definitely more than just the norm.


#5: Light vs Dark Exhibition: Stamps and Collectibles, Singapore Philatelic Museum

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“The Force is strong with this one.”


The Force of Star Wars fever is still going strong and it has swept our shores once again. If you are one with the Force, prepare to be mesmerised by the thousands of Star Wars collectibles that the curators had painstakingly arranged to neat perfection for all you fanatics out there. This pop-culture themed exhibition is the ideal platform for fans to rekindle their love for the famed fantasy film series. Immerse yourselves in the world of sci-fi and relive your old light-sabering days in the Light vs Dark Exhibition.

The ongoing exhibit is a collaborative effort between the museum and avid memorabilia collectors in Singapore, with the diorama of the iconic “Emperor’s Arrival Scene” being one of the highlights. It occupies the atrium, where various exclusive Star Wars movie memorabilia, hundreds of action figures, model ships and vehicles are on display. Be amazed by the life-size R2-D2 and featured character costumes that are most likely to take your breath away. Let’s not forget the stamps. The rare stamps are in mint condition. Since it is hosted by the Singapore Philatelic Museum, you can expect a unique collection of philatelic materials including Star Wars stamps that are specially issued by USA and Singapore.

If you are unfazed by the impressive 2,000 Star Wars collectibles from Singapore and North America, there are also interactive programmes such as “May the Fourth Be With You”, 3D Figurine Workshops and meeting the Stormtroopers for you to participate in. Catch them in action on the remaining dates, 2 June and 16 June 2013, from 2pm to 4pm. Head down to the museum to witness this phenomenon for yourself!


#4: President’s Young Talents, Singapore Art Museum

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In a dark room, a film is screened across two walls. On the ceiling hangs clouds made entirely out of polypropylene loop pins. A dozen or more different flashing lamps stand surrounding an empty chair. You might catch yourself wondering the purpose of these artworks. Fret not! The moment you read the description for the exhibition and the motivations of the artist, it all starts to make sense.

These are just a few of the many other artist showcases that are available at the Singapore Art Museum’s Special Exhibition Gallery. The President’s Young Talents exhibition showcases the work of Singaporean artists under the age of 35. Under the President’s Young Talents, these passionate artists are commissioned to produce artwork and are under the mentorship of local art professionals.

One of those artists is Robert Zhao Renhui.

Robert’s work, The Quieting and the Alarming, was inspired by nature and the government’s move to cull wild boars due to their rapidly growing population. Instead of looking at the situation from the eyes of a man, he chooses to look at it from an art perspective. His is an exhibition that is displayed in a darkened room. It seems pretty grim at first glance. Displayed are dark photographs in the Singaporean forests and a huge box at the far end of the room, which you discover is a life-sized wild boar trap. The effort and thought put into his work is evident. It’s thought provoking and gives you a second perspective of the issue at hand. However, Robert’s artwork isn’t the only work that will make you think. The works by the other talented artists are not to be missed as well!

The President’s Young Talents exhibition runs until 15 September 2013 on the Special Exhibition Galleries of the Singapore Art Museum. 


#3: Film & Wayang Gallery - Scripting a New Life (Singapore Living Galleries), National Museum of Singapore

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It comes in both black and white and a kaleidoscope of colours, provides for hours of visual entertainment and challenges viewers to exercise their imagination. Wondering what I’m prattling on about? Why, films of course! If you have an interest in films, then this is the perfect exhibition for you.

The National Museum of Singapore’s Film and Wayang Gallery explores the production and consumption of films from the 1950s to the 1970s. When you first enter the gallery, you find yourself squinting. The gallery has been considerably darkened to preserve and prevent objects from fading. As your eyes adjust, it fixates on the two giant screens. They feature montages of both local and Malaysian produced films that are mostly monochromatic. Tucked right in the corner of the exhibit is a Gaumont Kalee GK 21 35mm film projector that will grace you with its presence. It had screened many Chinese films in its heyday and was considered to be “state of the art” equipment in the past.

As you continue to walk through the exhibit (do be careful of the steps!), see if you are able to spot a tiny room situated behind the screens. The Wayang section traces the development of Chinese opera and puppetry in Singapore. As you enter, you will be greeted by a rich array of Chinese opera artifacts, including headdresses, beaded costumes and hand puppets. Do remember to check out the Xin Sai Le Puppet Stage while you are there. It belonged to a Xin Sai Le, a Fujian troupe, before it became one of National Museum’s National Treasures. You wouldn’t want to miss that out!


#2: Fashion (Singapore Living Galleries), National Museum of Singapore

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The period during the 1950s to 1970s was a time of change where Singapore experienced growth and development. Have you ever wondered how Singaporean women lived in those years? Ever wondered if they had struggled to cope with the constant shifts in society? Ever wondered if they found it tough to balance out their different roles: a teacher to a student, a mother to a daughter and a wife to a husband?

Wonder no more, for the answers to these questions can be found in this exhibition. The Gallery delves into the Singaporean women’s fashion, beauty and accessories back then. Be dazzled by the fashion statements that depicted their passion for fashion. As you make your way into the Gallery, you can’t help but be amazed by the beautifully sewn clothing on display, and intrigued by their time-consuming efforts to look good. Imagine having to use cornstarch instead of foundation and having no eyeliner! For the skincare and beauty junkie, you will find yourself being glued to the video screens chronicling popular facial regimes and make up brands that ruled the beauty industry in the past. Despite their limited resources, women managed to keep up with the beauty trends and stayed classy.

Along the way, stop for a break and get an earful of the past local songs that rocked the music scene. The Gallery also provides a crash course for visitors on the various uses for specific fabrics and patterns. You will also get to witness the footage of the process of a tailor making a traditional cheongsam.

Get ready to be catapulted into a past so glamorous worthy of reliving that you won’t want to leave.


#1: Art Garden 2013, Singapore Art Museum

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Credit: Lifestyleasia Singapore

The Art Garden 2013 makes its fourth appearance, stealing the hearts of both the young and the young at heart. The exhibition that promotes Contemporary Art for children is equipped with hands-on activities to keep the young ones occupied and allows them to further interact with the exhibits. Well rounded with short films, interactive art pieces and mentally stimulating exhibits, Art Garden guarantees that even the adults will not be let down.

Revel in four levels of artworks and let nostalgia consume you whilst you revisit fairy tales that now have their very own Asian touch. Overcome your childhood nightmares, and get absolutely captivated by the constellation of stars made merely from thread and screws. The first artwork that captures your attention will probably be LANDscape In The Box done by National University of Singapore (NUS) students. The artwork unveils the common sights of Singapore’s captivating sceneries in 134 intricate box displays. The next artwork showcases The Enchanted Garden City by Sandra Lee, where fairy tales take on their very own Asian twist. This is the only time you get to spot Red Riding Hood in a “nonya kebaya”! Once you’ve submerged yourself in nostalgia, make your way up the stairs and find yourself in awe with all the other artworks that will stimulate your senses. Be captivated by the effortless complexity of the artworks that has been created to awaken the kid in you.

Art Garden 2013 is held at Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) extension building, SAM at 8Q. Make sure you ask for directions to get there or you might end up missing out on all the fun!

For more details on the museums and exhibitions mentioned in the article, please visit http://www.nhb.gov.sg/NHBPortal/.

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