Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The former Saint Joseph's Institution (前圣约瑟书院), one of Singapore's oldest Catholic boys' school, is located along Bras Basah Road in the Museum Planning Area within the Central Area, Singapore's central business district. The building has been restored and currently houses the Singapore Art Museum which opened in December 20, 1996. Saint Joseph's Institution was set up by Father Jean-Marie Beurel, who was also responsible for the building of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd from 1843 to 1847.

Entrance to the museum is free from 12NN-2PM, Monday to Friday and from 6-9PM on Fridays. If you answer the survey form, you'd also get a souvenir (I got a fridge magnet featuring the facade of the museum). The staff are very, very courteous and welcoming.

De la Salle. The institution was run by the La Salle brothers in its heydey.

There are only around 8 pieces of contemporary Singaporean art on display. Although I can say that a few are impressive in terms of their breakthrough concepts, the others aren't as exciting as those I've seen in Manila in the past few weeks.

Is it the prosperity that's killing creativity? Does art breed on poverty, helplessness, depression, pain? One really wonders.

These pieces are by featured local artists who are actually present in the museum for visitors to talk to and interact with. I dare say that these selections are so much better than those in the permanent exhibition hall. Hmmm...

Auditorium. This probably must be former chapel of the Insitution. In lieu of the stained glass that used to be at the altar's window, an artwork by a Filipino artist reigns supreme.

Detail. Floor tiles.

This is by Philippine National Artist for Sculpture, Ramon Orlina.

The ceiling is made of beaten tin plates that we still see in a few old houses in the Philippines.
The verandah on the second floor. All areas are enclosed in glass because everything is airconditioned. Also, this keeps the humidity out to preserve the artworks on display.
One of the many airy verandahs on the ground floor. The museum comes alive on Friday nights when it is open until 9PM. There are several restaurants and coffee shops that provide visitors and passersby the much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of Singapore life.
The semi-circular wings were added by Father Charles Benedict Nain, then the parish priest, in 1903-1906.
Mouses on a dare. Adam Mickey and Eve Minnie. Is the museum worth visiting? Yes, if only to get a glimpse of local art and some visiting exhibits from abroad. When I was here, there was a feature on printing using copper plates from France dating back to the period of Louis XIV.

What's lacking? More local artists should be placed on permanent exhibit. Those currently on display lack the pizzaz that their contemporaries in other Southeast Asian countries possess. It probably is the lack of topics to "discuss" on canvass, but that's just my personal opinion. Also, to futher boost its claim to having the world's largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art, a bigger exhibition space should be provided for more of these collections - wherever they may be - to be exhibited permanently.

Thank you, www.singart.com, for the great welcome!

1 comment:

Mareza said...

we are planning to go to singapore
in dec and your blog is exellent & fascinating.