The National Gallery Singapore, which has been in the making for a decade, will open on Nov 24 with a two week-long celebration of free events and activities.
The opening weekend, in particular, will be marked by a carnival that spills out of the museum and onto the Padang, with roads in the area closed to traffic. The outdoor block party from Nov 27 to 29 will run from 5pm to midnight and include art workshops, interactive installations and food stalls at the Padang.
Admission to the museum's galleries and exhibitions will also be free for all visitors during the opening fortnight, from Nov 24 to Dec 6. The museum is open during this period from 10am to 7pm, Mondays to Thursdays, and 10am to 11pm from Fridays to Sundays.
Admission to the museum's galleries after the opening celebrations remains free for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, as well as children aged six and under, except for special exhibitions. For non-Singaporean adults, admission is priced at $20, and for children aged seven to 12, admission is $15.
At yesterday's press briefing on the museum's opening celebrations, its chief executive Chong Siak Ching said: "We want as many people as possible to enjoy the art and our programmes. We will have over 20 free events, exciting performances, including a grand facade show... and many other art activities for all ages."
The facade show, held during the opening weekend, is a light and sound display that will project animated images of iconic works from the museum's collection, including Cheong Soo Pieng's Drying Salted Fish and Chua Mia Tee's Epic Poem Of Malaya, across the front of the former Supreme Court and City Hall, which the museum occupies.
In line with the museum's mission to make art come alive and have it spark creativity, the opening celebrations will also feature performances in the genres of dance, music, theatre and film.
The Arts Fission Company will perform a dance inspired by the shades of red in works of art in the galleries, at the Padang Atrium space, while theatre group spell#7 will stage a participatory play on the second floor of the City Hall Wing that is inspired by Chua Mia Tee's National Language Class.
Three short films, commissioned for the opening, will also premiere at the celebrations in conjunction with the Singapore International Film Festival. The trio of films inaugurates the museum's annual film commission series, which premieres South-east Asian short films inspired by art in the museum.
The museum, which can accommodate up to 8,000 visitors at a time, expects 120,000 people to take part in the fortnight-long celebrations. To manage the anticipated crowd and minimise queues, admission tickets during the opening fortnight will be released online from tomorrow at https://tickets. nationalgallery.sg. While admission to the galleries is free during the opening fortnight, tickets are required for entry and, should there be a crowd, priority will be given to visitors with pre-booked tickets.
Once in, visitors can navigate the 64,000 sq m museum and locate 100 key works of art in the galleries with the help of the museum's Gallery Explorer mobile application.
The mobile app, developed in partnership with Accenture, offers visitors self-guided tours and turn-by-turn directions from one's current location to points of interest within the museum. It also provides additional information for some 100 works of art, as well as allows users to share and comment on their favourite works, and even come up with their own customised tour. The app is free for download from Apple's App Store from Nov 18 and will be available on the Google Play Store later.
Ms Chong said: "(The mobile app) encourages visitors to create dialogues about their experiences with art, which we believe is a very important aspect in making the Gallery a place that visitors will keep returning to, and also a place for the community."
Five highlights from the National Gallery Singapore's two week-long opening celebrations:
1. Art Carnival
What: A block party will be held at the Padang offering art workshops, interactive installations and food stalls. Visitors can also enjoy a 10-minute light and sound show projected across the museum's facade three times a night at 8, 9 and 10pm.
Where: The Padang
When: Nov 27 to 29, 5pm to midnight daily
2. Art Forum: Trends and points of collaboration across museums
What: The museum's curatorial and collections director Low Sze Wee will be joined by museum directors and specialists from Hong Kong and China who will discuss how museums in Asia can boost art appreciation and scholarship.
Where: National Gallery Singapore Auditorium, City Hall Wing, basement 1
When: Nov 26, 10am to noon
3. Memora(film)ia: Random Acts Of Remembering
What: Three short films by Kan Lume, Megan Wonowidjoyo, Sanif Olek and Liao Jiekai, commissioned for the museum's opening celebrations, will make their world premiere. This trio of films inaugurates the museum's annual film commission series, which premieres South-east Asian short films inspired by art in the museum.
Where: National Gallery Singapore Theatrette, Supreme Court Wing, level 5
When: Nov 27 to Dec 6, start of each hour from 10am to 10pm, Fridays to Sundays, and 10am to 6pm, Mondays to Thursdays
4. Resonates With
What: This performance of cross-genre musical collaborations between classical music ensembles and contemporary musicians is curated by multi-disciplinary artist Bani Haykal. The sounds are inspired by the works and lives of artists featured in the museum.
Where: National Gallery Padang Atrium
When: Nov 27 to 29 and Dec 4 to 6, 7.30, 8.30 and 9.30pm daily
5. In The Name Of Red
What: This site-specific performance by home-grown contemporary dance group The Arts Fission Company is inspired by the shades of red in works of art in the galleries.
Where: National Gallery Padang Atrium
When: Dec 4 to 6, 9pm daily
This article was first published on Nov 4, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.