SINGAPORE — The Government will be pumping in S$65 million over the next few years to revamp Singapore’s museums and cultural institutions, said Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong today (March 11).
About S$35 million will go towards renovating the National Museum of Singapore and Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and S$21 million will be invested in the Esplanade “to upgrade the visitor experience, and set up a theatre mainly for children,” said Mr Wong. A further S$9 million will go to the Heritage Conservation Centre to build up Singapore’s conservation capabilities.
Speaking at the Committee of Supply (COS) debate for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Mr Wong said the National Museum of Singapore will be unveiling a new wing, called Play@NMS, dedicated to children and young families.
“We aim to design a new experience in the museum that will capture more of what we call “everyday heritage” — heritage taken not only from the grand pages of history, but from the lives of ordinary citizens. In particular, the Singapore Memory Project has collected stories from Singaporeans from all walks of life. We will showcase a selection of these memories in the Museum,” said Mr Wong.
The ACM will also undergo a transformation that will see new shops, dining options and expanded permanent galleries. In addition, the Ministry is exploring a new entrance for the museum that will open up to the Singapore River.
“We may combine this with a new gallery space that will breathe more light into the museum. This needs a bit more study, but it’s a game-changer for the museum,” said Mr Wong. “It would open the museum to many more visitors and convert it into a vibrant offering along the waterfront. Not to mention, this would connect the museum to the historic heart of Singapore.”
Mr Wong added that the number of visitors to museums surged by more than 25 per cent in the six months after entry to museums was made free for all Singaporeans last year.
BRINGING ART CLOSER TO SINGAPOREANS
The National Arts Council (NAC) will also be establishing a Public Art Trust to commission, display, promote and maintain public artworks, to bring art closer to Singaporeans.
“The Trust will give more opportunities for artists, especially Singaporean artists, to integrate their work into the built environment,” said Mr Wong. “With this Public Art Trust, I hope we can see more artwork in public spaces — in our housing estates, in our parks, and even in Changi Airport to welcome both residents and visitors.”
The MCCY will provide the trust with S$10 million in seed funding and donations received from patrons of the arts will be matched dollar for dollar through the Cultural Matching Fund.
Artists TODAY spoke to welcomed the announcement. “I think it would definitely raise the understanding or even the impact art has on the environment,” said Mr Tan Wee Lit, Visiting Assistant Professor of Arts and Culture Management (Practice) at Singapore Management University. “It’s nice that art is not just limited to people of a certain class, but to people of all demographics.”
“Public art can also be a point of contention. Hopefully this will spark discussion on whether a piece of work is good or not.”
The NAC will consult the public on its features before finalising the scheme by the end of the year.
The MCCY will also be setting aside up to S$20 million over the next five years, from FY2014 to FY2018, to support international collaboration and opportunities for Singapore artists to participate in overseas cultural exchanges and activities, such as arts festivals, fairs and artists residences.