OPEN HOUSE & EXTENDED HOURS THIS FRI–SUN | 22–24 FEB

We will be having an Open House on the closing weekend of LIGHT TO NIGHT FESTIVAL: TRACES AND ECHOES. Enjoy FREE ADMISSION to all exhibitions including MINIMALISM: SPACE. LIGHT. OBJECT. There will also be extended hours to all exhibition galleries including concourse galleries on Fri & Sat from 10am–10pm. Come experience the festival before it closes! Click here to learn more

Celebrating the Rich

H
I
S
T
ORY

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.

Scroll down to start

1926

THE BEGINNING

Plans were drawn up by the Architects’ Department to build the Municipal Building.

27
28

1929

The Municipal Building was completed and declared open on 23 July 1929.

The Municipal Building, c. 1930.

The Municipal Building, c. 1930.
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

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33
34

1935

Plans for a new Supreme Court were approved and Frank Dorrington Ward’s design for the building was unveiled to the public.

Elevation of the former Supreme Court building, 1939.

Elevation of the former Supreme Court building, 1939.
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

36

1937

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.

Foundation Stone in the former Supreme Court building.

Foundation Stone in the former Supreme Court building.
©Tan Yih Siang

38

1939

Opening of the former Supreme Court building by Sir Thomas Shenton Whitelegge Thomas.

Exterior of the former Supreme Court building upon its completion.

Exterior of the former Supreme Court building upon its completion.
Lisa Brunner Collection. Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

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41

1942

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.

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44

1945

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.

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten reads the order of the day about the Japanese surrender from the steps of the Municipal Building (12 Sept 1945).

Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten reads the order of the day about the Japanese surrender from the steps of the Municipal Building (12 Sept 1945).
Courtesy of Image Bank WW2 – NIOD

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50

1951

Singapore was declared a City and the Municipal Building was renamed the City Hall building.

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58

1959

5 June

The then-Prime Minister Lee and members of his Cabinet took their Oaths of Allegiance and Oaths of Office on 5 June 1959 in the City Hall Chamber.

Swearing-in of Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister of Singapore on 5 June 1959. 1994.

Lai Kui Fang. Swearing-in of Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister of Singapore on 5 June 1959.
1994. Oil on canvas, 216 x 306 cm.
Collection of National Museum of Singapore. Courtesy of the National Heritage Board.

3 December

Yusof Bin Ishak was inaugurated as Singapore's first head of State in the City Hall Chamber on 3 December 1959. Singapore's national flag and anthem were unveiled on this day.

Swearing-in of the first locally-born Yang Di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore Yusof Bin Ishak at City Hall.

Swearing-in of the first locally-born Yang Di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore Yusof Bin Ishak at City Hall.
Ministry of Information and The Arts Collection,
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

Scene before the swearing-in at the installation ceremony in the City Hall Chamber on 3 December 1959. Yusof Ishak Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

Scene before the swearing-in at the installation ceremony in the City Hall Chamber on 3 December 1959.
Yusof Ishak Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

The newly-installed Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak, the Cabinet and Assembly Members during the launch of National Loyalty Week and state anthem \

The newly-installed Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak, the Cabinet and Assembly Members during the launch of National Loyalty Week and state anthem "Majulah Singapura" at the City Hall steps. "Majulah Singapura" later became the national anthem in 1965.
Yusof Ishak Collection, Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

The offices of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Culture were set up in the City Hall building.

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1963

Wee Chong Jin was appointed the first Asian Chief Justice of Singapore, a milestone in Singapore’s judicial history where his predecessors had been British.

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69

1971

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew moved part of his office and the whole of the Cabinet office from City Hall building to the Istana annex. Foreign Minister Sinnathamby Rajaratnam took over Mr Lee’s office.

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83

1986

Additional courtrooms were constructed in the City Hall building to accommodate the increased workload of the Supreme Court.

88

1990

Wee Chong Jin retired as Chief Justice and Yong Pung How was appointed as the new Head of Judiciary

1992

Historical Monuments

City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings were declared National Monuments.

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99
02

2005

Announcement of a National Gallery for Singapore

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the National Day Rally Speech, that City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings would be converted into the new National Gallery Singapore.

Former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings prior to the renovation works to become National Gallery Singapore.

Former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings prior to the renovation works to become National Gallery Singapore.

The Supreme Court moved to a new building, costing $208 million. This was designed by Lord Norman Foster and had 12 civil courts, eight criminal courts and three appellate courts.

06

2007

A two-stage international architectural design competition for the National Gallery was launched.

There were a total of 111 entries from 29 countries worldwide. Five proposals were shortlisted at the end of Stage 1. The top three winning schemes for the competition were announced on 29 August 2007.

A public exhibition was held on October 2007.

Call for entry for the Architectural Design Competition.

Call for entry for the Architectural Design Competition.

2008

Winner of Design Competition Announced

Studio Milou Architecture from France in collaboration with CPG Consultants Pte Ltd was selected as the winning entry for the architectural design competition.

Artist's impression of National Gallery Singapore.

Artist's impression of National Gallery Singapore.
©studioMilou Singapore 2013 / National Gallery Singapore

09

2010

Appointment of Construction Contractor

Takenaka-Singapore Piling Joint Venture (TCSP) was appointed as the main construction contractor for the project.

Archaeological Dig

Two archaeological digs were held on the site of National Gallery Singapore. The digs uncovered artefacts from the 14th to the 19th centuries, shedding light on the rich trade networks and livelihoods of the past.

Bodhisattva Figurine in Royal Pose, Qing Bai Procelain, Yuan Dynasty, 14th century.

Bodhisattva Figurine in Royal Pose, Qing Bai Procelain, Yuan Dynasty, 14th century.
Collection of National Museum of Singapore.

Toothpaste Lid, Great Britain, last quarter 19th century.

Toothpaste Lid, Great Britain, last quarter 19th century.
Collection of National Museum of Singapore.

2011

Ground-breaking ceremony held
From left: Mr Jean Fran­cois, Prin­cipal Archi­tect, Stu­dio Milou Archi­tects; Mr Michael Koh, Chief Exec­ut­ive Officer for the National Her­it­age Board and the National Art Gal­lery; Pro­fessor Tommy Koh, Chair­man, National Her­it­age Board; Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Min­is­ter for Inform­a­tion, Com­mu­nic­a­tions and the Arts;  Mr Koh Seow Chuan, Chair­man for the National Art Gal­lery;  Mr Toi­chi Takenaka, Pres­id­ent & CEO of Takenaka Cor­por­a­tion and Mr Lee Soo Khoong, Senior Vice Pres­id­ent, CPG Con­sult­ants Pte Ltd.

From left: Mr Jean Fran­cois, Prin­cipal Archi­tect, Stu­dio Milou Archi­tects; Mr Michael Koh, Chief Exec­ut­ive Officer for the National Her­it­age Board and the National Art Gal­lery; Pro­fessor Tommy Koh, Chair­man, National Her­it­age Board; Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Min­is­ter for Inform­a­tion, Com­mu­nic­a­tions and the Arts; Mr Koh Seow Chuan, Chair­man for the National Art Gal­lery; Mr Toi­chi Takenaka, Pres­id­ent & CEO of Takenaka Cor­por­a­tion and Mr Lee Soo Khoong, Senior Vice Pres­id­ent, CPG Con­sult­ants Pte Ltd.

2012

Restoration and Transformation

Restoration works on the Supreme Court's tympanum commenced.

A restoration specialist meticulously brushes a figure on the tympanum.

2014

The first of the link bridges that connect City Hall and former Supreme Court building was installed.

The 10.2 tonne first link bridge was carefully lifted and fitted between the buildings.

2015

Opening Celebrations

National Gallery Singapore welcomed more than 170,000 visitors during a two-week long Opening Celebrations from 24 November - 6 December. 

The Share the Hope Art Carnival was a crowd favourite, offering than 20 free events and activities

27 November

Grand Opening of National Gallery Singapore with Guest of Honour, President Tony Tan.

President Tony Tan unveils the commemorative plaque at the Gallery’s Padang Atrium (From left: President Tony Tan; Moses Lee, Chairman, Tote Board.)