Demolish SAM? We Wouldn't Dare.
We think the best way to describe what’s happening with the redevelopment of our museum buildings is ‘part Marie Kondo, part Extreme Makeover’. It is time to identify what sparks joy, what holds historical value, and what needs an overhaul to turn SAM into the best version of itself.
Like all good TV shows, we’re saving the big reveal for later. Which, understandably, has given rise to speculations and rumours.
Long story short, EVERYONE CALM DOWN. We are not demolishing the museum buildings. We would never, and quite frankly, we aren’t allowed to because the Preservation of Sites and Monuments (a division of the National Heritage Board) has got the buildings’ backs!
One of their roles is to identify and make recommendations to the government for buildings and sites that are eligible to be conferred the status of National Monument1. They also have rules and guidelines in place that govern changes that can or cannot be carried out on National Monuments like SAM’s Bras Basah Road building – and any major building modifications require written permissions from them2.
Spoiler Alert: Because the Bras Basah Road building was gazetted as a National Monument in 19923, all its precious bits aren’t going anywhere. Although SAM at 8Q has not been conferred the same status, it is still an important landmark within one of Singapore’s most historic neighbourhoods; therefore, we can’t be all loosey-goosey with our design changes.
For now, we’re staying tight-lipped on the final design, but we thought we’d share a little about what is staying and what we’re going to bid farewell to.
SINGAPORE ART MUSEUM (BRAS BASAH ROAD)
An illustration of SAM’s Bras Basah Road building that was gazetted as a National Monument on February 14, 1992. The building is now closed for a major redevelopment, and a new building design will be revealed to the public soon.
Completed in 1867, with the curved wings added in 19034.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/mc-hammer-hFIkt5s7MrzI4)
Demolition Status: To quote rapper MC Hammer, we ‘can’t touch this’.
Queen Block (along Queen Street)
Completed in 1995 on the site of the former Brothers’ Quarters used by the De La Salle Brothers who ran the St Joseph’s Institution5.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/wetv-we-tv-growing-up-hip-hop-growinguphiphop-1xOPnZCs9gq52vTxtd)
Demolition Status: One of the youngest clusters in the lot, this ‘millennial’ building isn’t part of the National Monument yet. So, bye Queen.
Rear blocks connecting Anderson Building and Queen Block
Another addition introduced during the museum-in-the-making phase in the late 1990s6.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/asian-lucy-liu-american-history-month-3o7bukVodFfbQUpIEE)
Demolition Status: Time to disconnect and bid adieu.
Anderson Building (along Waterloo Street)
Added to the site in 19077.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/abcnetwork-abc-dont-even-think-about-it-desmond-chiam-lqv3BbhnqfaRlhKFtj)
Demolition Status: Don’t even think about it.
It’s been around since 19128.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/best-gifs-nicki-minaj-bbmas-2015-ExoGOIpMvuVR6)
Demolition Status: It will continue to be around for a long time. #blessed
Read more about our Bras Basah Road building here.
SAM AT 8Q (QUEEN STREET)
As the title suggests, these structures were only added much later when SAM converted the building for use as a contemporary art museum (the original 4-storey building was completed way back in 1951)9.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/love-michael-cera-scott-pilgrim-QvWiCJJF97qrm)
Demolition Status: The building version of ‘I need some space.’
Catholic High School Building
Established in 1950, this building has seen generations of boys turn into men.
Source: www.giphy.com (Click to see GIF animation: https://giphy.com/gifs/asianhistorymonth-asian-history-month-heritage-l1BgRBd4cVC8OaZKo)
Demolition Status: No, nope, nah.
The final design will be revealed soon. In the meantime, we will continue to bring you more stories on SAM’s redevelopment and other exclusive content. If you have a story or memory about SAM or its buildings to share, please reach out to us at [email protected].
1 ’Preservation of Sites and Monuments,’ National Heritage Board, accessed September 16, 2019, https://www.nhb.gov.sg/what-we-do/our-work/preserve-our-stories-treasures-and-places/national-monuments-and-marked-historic-sites/preservation-of-sites-and-monuments
2 ’A Brief Guide for Owners and Occupiers of National Monuments,’ National Heritage Board, accessed September 16, 2019, https://www.nhb.gov.sg/-/media/nhb/images/nhb2017/what-we-do/preservation-of-sites-and-monuments/psm-tech-guide-general-guide.pdf?la=en
3 ’Former Saint Joseph's Institution (now Singapore Art Museum),’ Roots.sg, last modified April 12, 2016, https://roots.sg/Roots/Content/Places/national-monuments/former-saint-josephs-institution-now-singapore-art-museum
4, 7 & 8 Brown, Francis. “Memories of SJI – Reminiscences of Old boys and Past Teachers of St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore.” Accessed June 12, 2019. https://www.sji.edu.sg/news-and-events/sji-publications/memories-of-sji.
5 & 6 Wong, Hooe Wai. 1996. ’An Architect’s Story: A Dialogue of the Old and New’. Art Asiapacific, 1996.
9 ’Former Catholic High School ([email protected])’, Roots.sg, last modified September 2, 2019, https://roots.sg/Roots/Content/Places/surveyed-sites/Former Catholic High School SAM 8Q