The best art galleries and museums in Singapore

Singapore’s vibrant cultural mix has fostered an array of museums and galleries, from ornate colonial buildings to cavernous repurposed warehouses

Words by Joseph Koh
May 14, 2024
The lotus-shaped facade of the ArtScience Museum on Singapore's Marina Bay
The lotus-shaped facade of the ArtScience Museum on Singapore's Marina Bay

This island nation has long been Southeast Asia’s epicentre for finance and commerce, but increasingly has become a hub for art, too. Singapore holds a growing influence in the art world as a hub for regional masterpieces, having weaved Chinese, Malay and Indian influences into a diverse and distinctive cultural fabric.

The country’s fledgling art scene has been on an upwards trajectory in the last decade, bolstered by the opening of National Gallery Singapore in 2015 and the country’s flagship international art fair, Art SG, which connects blue-chip galleries, collectors and art fans from around the world. Boutique fair SEA Focus has continued to grow its clout as an art platform for the region, and international galleries like Japan’s Whitestone and Hong Kong’s WOAW have established outposts here. Local collectors have opened private art spaces and exhibitions, while independent players, such as multidisciplinary incubator Supper House and digital pre-owned art marketplace Art Again, are filling in the gaps with their fresh perspectives.

As Singapore’s art scene finds its stride, these are the best galleries and museums paving the way.

A colonnaded corridor with polished floors and a tiled ceiling in National Gallery Singapore
National Gallery Singapore occupies the former Supreme Court and City Hall

National Gallery Singapore

Best for: Modern Southeast Asian art
Location: 1 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
Price: SGD 20 / USD 14.70

Set in two national monuments (the former Supreme Court and City Hall), this sprawling venue houses the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art. A sweeping steel and glass canopy, inspired by woven cane and rattan, connects both buildings together – a fitting metaphor for the museum’s ambitions to foster connections between art from the region and the globe. The National Gallery has jointly curated exhibitions with Tate Britain, Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Orsay, exploring commonalities between Southeast Asia’s pioneers with international luminaries and reframing western-centric narratives in the process. Dining and drinking is great here, too: the historic building is home to Michelin-starred restaurants Odette and Art di Daniele Sperindio, as well as buzzing rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors.

The facade of ArtScience Museum in Singapore against a blue and white sky.
ArtScience Museum

ArtScience Museum

Best for: Future-forward exhibitions and sparkling Marina Bay skyline views
Location: 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974
Price: SGD 30 / USD 22 (Family bundle tickets are available)

The eye-catching lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum explores the intersections between art, design, technology and architecture. Under the leadership of New Zealand-based curator Honor Hagar, this intriguing institution imagines possible futures with its exhibits, whether through the lens of big data, particle physics or space exploration. Within the span of 13 years, the museum has exhibited large-scale works by Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and MC Escher. A permanent exhibition by Japanese art collective TeamLab is an immersive must-see spectacle.

An installation view at Singapore Art Museum.
An installation view of 'SAM Contemporaries Residues & Remixes'. Photo courtesy of Singapore Art Museum

Singapore Art Museum (Tanjong Pagar Distripark)

Best for: Local and global contemporary art in Singapore
Location: 39 Keppel Road, #01-02 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065
Price: SGD 20 / USD 14.70

The country’s leading institution for contemporary art has found a brand new home in an expansive warehouse called Tanjong Pagar Distripark. Embedded among cranes and containers in Singapore’s port, the museum has come alongside a clutch of other galleries to forge an unlikely art enclave. Singapore Art Museum sees itself as an open-air museum: it believes art shouldn’t be confined to a white cube but spill into the everyday. This vision is exemplified by two public art trails in the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood and Rail Corridor, where site-specific installations by Singapore-based artists breathe new life into often-overlooked spaces. The artworks run until 9 March 2025.

Inside the white walls of Gajah Gallery.
An installation view of works by Jao San Pedro, Abednego Trianto, Robert Zhao Renhui and Kiri Dalena in the show 'Customised Postures, (De)colonising Gestures' at Gajah Gallery

Gajah Gallery

Best for: Southeast Asia’s best contemporary artists
Location: 39 Keppel Rd, #03-04 Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065
Price: Free

Gajah was one of the first galleries to call Tanjong Pagar Distripark home. In the same trailblazing spirit, it has championed Southeast Asian art for close to three decades, representing prominent regional artists like Jane Lee, Yunizar and I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih. What sets Gajah apart is its foundry in Yogyakarta, where artists are invited to experiment with materials outside of their usual practice, such as bronze and aluminium. Many of these works carry a larger-than-life quality and often make their way to the Singapore gallery.

The historic white facade of the Peranakan Museum in Singapore.
The historic facade of the Peranakan Museum

Peranakan Museum

Best for: Artefacts from the Straits Chinese community
Location: 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941
Price: SGD 12 / USD 8.90

Reopened in 2023 after a four-year makeover, this institution offers visitors a glimpse into the Peranakans, a cross-cultural ethnic group whose origins stretch back to the 15th century, when mostly male Southern Chinese settlers married local women from the Malay Archipelago. Although Chinese Peranakans are typically associated with this crossroads culture, the Peranakan Museum offers an expansive look into other prominent strands of the community, such as the Chitty Melaka (Indian Peranakans) and Arab Peranakans. Director of the Peranakan Museum Kennie Ting likens the institution to a “jewel box”, where each of the nine galleries has its own look and feel, and features a potpourri of artefacts from furniture to decorative textiles and jewellery. With one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Peranakan objects, this museum is a perfect portal into exploring this distinct culture.

A street view of Artcommune gallery, Singapore.
A street view of Artcommune

Artcommune

Best for: Learning about Singapore’s art masters
Location: 76 Bras Basah Road #01-01, Carlton Hotel Singapore 189558
Price: Free

A short walk from the Peranakan Museum will take you to Artcommune, a gallery that represents some of most Singapore’s pioneering artists, such as Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi and Ong Kim Seng. Founded in 2009 by artist Ho Sou Ping, its role today transcends that of a typical commercial space, with Singaporean art education forming a big part of their ethos. This comes to life during their monthly talks for art enthusiasts and young collectors, which delve into the practice of local artists, explore art genres and strands of art collecting.

A single painting on view in a white corridor in Cuturi gallery in Singapore.
A painting by Khairulddin Wahab, from their 'Shape of Land' solo show at Cuturi

Cuturi

Best for: Spotlighting Singapore’s next-generation artists
Location: 61 Aliwal Street, Singapore 199937
Price: Free

A rising crop of young Singaporean artists has burst onto the scene in recent years and Kevin Cuturi is one of the prominent names behind this surge. His eponymous galley in Kampong Gelam runs a residency programme for local artists and presents their work in major cities such as Paris and Los Angeles. Notable names under Cuturi’s fold include Aisha Rosli, Casey Tan and Faris Heizer. This cultural establishment offers a glimpse into the nation’s massive potential for artistic endeavours.

The Private Museum

Best for: Viewing privately owned artwork
Location: 11 Upper Wilkie Road, Singapore 228120
Price: Free

Founded by real-estate developer Daniel Teo and his daughter Rachel, the independent Private Museum is set within a heritage bungalow on Mount Emily, Singapore. It has held more than 50 exhibitions since its 2010 opening, showcasing the works of leading artists from Singapore in the process, including Kumari Nahappan, Cheong Soo Pieng and Suzann Victor. This boundary-pushing space is a great spot for discovering alternative perspectives away from the entrenched institutions. In a country where independent art venues have struggled to survive, the Private Museum’s place in the ecosystem is more important than ever.

An installation view at STPI Creative Worksop & Gallery Singapore
An installation view at STPI Creative Worksop & Gallery

STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery

Best for: Experimental print and paper artworks
Location: 41 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238236
Price: Free

STPI has continually put Singapore on the art world map by championing the mediums of print and paper, both by exhibiting works and offering artist residencies. It was the country’s first gallery to be selected for Art Basel, and draws globally recognised names to its residencies, such as Ashley Bickerton, Do Ho Suh and Richard Deacon. MoMA in New York has acquired works from STPI – a testament to its contribution to the global art landscape. With a state-of-the-art printmaking facility and in-house team of experts, STPI’s exhibitions stretch preconceived notions of the medium.

The listening room at Appetite in Singapore, where a lounge chair and rug face three shelving units.
The listening room at Appetite

Appetite

Best for: Dining, drinking and discovering art in one space
Location: 72A Amoy Street, Singapore 069891
Price: Free

Appetite eschews the traditional white cube for a casual gallery space that artfully weaves in a vinyl music lounge and an R&D kitchen. The brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Ivan Brehm – who helms sister restaurant Nouri, too – Appetite began as a research lab for his multidisciplinary approach to food, but has since evolved into a hybrid art space. Changing every three months, Appetite’s shows feature works by established and emerging artists, many of which have never been displayed in Singapore before, such as American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s posthumous solo exhibition.

Installation view of ‘Ascending Primeval Codes’ by Po Po, showing at Ames Yavuz gallery Singapore.
Installation view of ‘Ascending Primeval Codes’ by Po Po, showing at Ames Yavuz

Ames Yavuz

Best for: Art from the Asia-Pacific
Location: 9 Lock Road, #02-23 Gillman Barracks Singapore 108937
Price: Free

Homing in on art from the wider Asia-Pacific region, Ames Yavuz represents groundbreaking artists including Pinaree Sanpitak, Vincent Namatjira and Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan. Many of its artists deal with pressing issues of our time, which founders Can Yavuz and Glen Ames hope can contribute to contemporary discourse and affect change. The gallery is set in Gillman Barracks, a military compound turned art precinct that’s also home to a handful of other incredible galleries – the perfect spot for an artful jaunt.

'A Matter of Time' (2021) by Wyn-Lyn Tan. Photo courtesy of FOST Gallery

FOST Gallery

Best for: Discovering established Singapore artists
Location: 1 Lock Road, #01-02 Gillman Barracks Singapore 108932
Price: Free

Also in Gillman Barracks, FOST is one of the leading galleries with a focus on Singapore-based artists, having worked with the likes of Grace Tan, Wyn-Lyn Tan, John Clang and Donna Ong. Founder Stephanie Fong started FOST in 2006, when the art scene was first emerging, and it’s one of the few long-standing independent galleries still going strong today. Stephanie is known for her nurturing role in her artists’ careers, providing them the freedom to explore and experiment, and Singapore’s art scene has become richer for that.