Singapore is officially the most expensive city in the World for 3 years running now - ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, and Paris. For Malaysians - the minute you set foot in Singapore you immediately feel 3 times poorer. A simple cabin hotel will set you back SGD 70 - around RM200 - ouch ! Thankfully there are still some bargains to be found - like the National Gallery Singapore. Entry for Singaporeans is free - and for non-Singaporeans is SGD20 - a bargain !
The National Gallery Singapore is converted from 2 of the most iconic Colonial buildings in Singapore - the City Hall and former Supreme Court which happen to be next to each other. The Gallery is now the largest art gallery in Asia, with a formidable collection of South-East Asian art of over 8,000 works.
The gallery complex itself is a huge architectural attraction. The restoration is expertly done - and the additions seamlessly bring the 2 buildings together into one. The gap between the buildings is now an atrium and main concourse of the gallery - crisscrossed by sky-bridges inserted into the void.
Never have I seen such a huge collection of Asian art - the quality and sheer variety of forms is quite overwhelming. It will take weeks to properly appreciate the collection and a few hours visit is simply not enough.
In the Supreme Court wing the main court chamber has been preserved - as well as the library with a beautiful rotunda dome.
At the roof top of the former City Hall is a hidden paradise - a couple of new levels have been added to accommodate restaurants and bars with great views onto the Singapore skyline and historic Padang and Cricket Club.
The National Gallery is an important centrepiece of Singapore's latest reinvention. Not content with being just a financial centre - it also wants to be an art and cultural hub of Asia. With huge resources at its disposal and sheer determination - it my get there.