"Why Should I Care?" and Other Burning Questions about SAM's New Transformation "Why Should I Care?" and Other Burning Questions about SAM's New Transformation

"Why Should I Care?" and Other Burning Questions about SAM's New Transformation

  • 14 Feb 2020

  • For future generations, we hope SAM will become an iconic landmark that honours an unforgettable past yet feels contemporary, current and relevant.

Big things are happening behind the hoardings at Bras Basah Road and Queen Street. As you may have heard, we are not demolishing the heritage buildings, but we are preparing for major enhancements to our façade, interiors, courtyards, entrances and many other spaces.

But what about the building’s historical features? Will I still be able to recognise SAM? So. Many. Questions. The wait is finally over as we let you in on everything that’s lined up for SAM.


1. Let’s get this straight: what’s the big deal about SAM’s redevelopment?

As Singapore’s museum of contemporary art, it’s the first time we’re undergoing major upgrades since our opening in 1996. We’re wiping away a proud tear, are you?

I don't know how to put this in

The magicians that are our architects have created a design that not only preserves the former St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI) and former Catholic High School (CHS) buildings, but also increases the overall space in the buildings by about 30%.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new building design, featuring the front view of the former St. Joseph’s Institution building with a new purpose-built Sky Gallery and pedestrianised green space for art © Singapore Art Museum

The new museum buildings are designed with the needs of visitors like you in mind. New and improved galleries for museum-goers and the art community, educational spaces for students, a spankin’ new landmark with beautiful spaces for everyone to enjoy, and not forgetting, upgraded facilities that provide easy accessibility for visitors with special needs.


2. So, what can I expect from the new SAM buildings?

Well, it depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re someone who is captivated by all things shiny — the new façade on Bras Basah Road will be difficult to ignore. With a series of reflective glass panels creating multiple reflections of the historic dome, it’ll definitely inspire more than a few fascinated woahs.

If you’ve ever wished there were a way to merge art and parks, you’re going to love the new outdoor space for art. The old entrance and driveway along Bras Basah Road will be transformed into a fully pedestrianised green space for everyone to enjoy. These public spaces are going to be a great way for artists, curators, local and international museums to transform your experience of contemporary art.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new building design, featuring the new pedestrianised green space for art © Singapore Art Museum

For those curious young minds, the former CHS building continues its legacy of education with a Learning Gallery and dedicated workshop spaces.

And if you’re someone on the market for a creative date spot, honestly the new museum is a winner in all regards. Saying you met at the Sky Gallery while admiring an artwork does make for a pretty romantic story, no?


3. Hang on, did you say a “Sky Gallery”?

Uh huh, yeah, a Sky Gallery. Did we mention it’s going to float over the former SJI courtyard? Those architect-wizards are at it again. This massive, column-free space is all kinds of wonderful news for contemporary artists who want to experiment, innovate and exhibit larger-than-life artworks.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new purpose-built Sky Gallery © Singapore Art Museum


PS: We know this looks like fun date activity, but fo’ real, do not touch the exhibits!

There’s going to be a second floating gallery at the former CHS building too, because for a museum of contemporary art, there’s no such thing as too much space.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new building design, featuring the front view of the former Catholic High School building with new exhibition spaces and gallery-bridge © Singapore Art Museum

The best part? We’re also introducing a gallery-bridge, so now it really will feel like ONE continuous space.


4. Stop right there, there’s a bridge too?!

That’s right, the gallery-bridge will link the two SAM buildings and create a seamless experience for all. This addition will make us wonder how we survived so long without it. Notice how we call it a gallery-bridge? That’s because while it fulfils its bridge duties, it’s also going to be a space that showcases art.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new building design, featuring the new gallery-bridge © Singapore Art Museum

And if you’re already planning a visit in the future, get ready to be greeted by an outdoor plaza and a large, welcoming atrium in the inner courtyards of the new Queen Street entrance.

Artist impression showing Singapore Art Museum’s new building design, featuring the new Queen Street entrance and entrance plaza © Singapore Art Museum


5. Woah, what a transformation! Are the buildings ready to undergo these changes?

These buildings have seen so much in their lifetime, and we want to ensure that they are capable of withstanding these changes. All of us involved in the redevelopment are committed to preserving and conserving their architectural history while adding some hyper-modern touches. For future generations, we hope SAM will become an iconic landmark that honours an unforgettable past yet feels contemporary, current and relevant.

Old but still lit

While we (excitedly) wait for the new buildings’ completion in 2023, we’ll keep sharing updates and stories on SAM’s redevelopment here. If you have a story to share about SAM or its buildings, please reach out to us at [email protected].