In this round of our brand new review series, we give you the lowdown on Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark and the art experiences you should check out.
Who would’ve thought Tanjong Pagar Distripark (TPD) would be home to Singapore Art Museum (SAM)? SAM has chosen the historic port as its newest venue as its original spaces in the Bras Basah-Bugis district are being redeveloped. Yes, it’s further away from the other museums… regardless, SAM at TPD presents a new suite of art and lifestyle offerings perfect for a family day out.
How to get to SAM at TPD
SAM at TPD is located at 39 Keppel Road, a stone’s throw away from the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Psst, note the ongoing construction for the upcoming Cantonment train station on the Circle Line. Yup, the orange line is finally closing its loop!
If you’re going via public transport, take the train down to Tanjong Pagar station. Take Exit D – Exit E is currently closed; this exit is the subsequent closest – and head towards the bus stop directly opposite AXA Tower. The walk should take about five minutes or so. From here, hop on bus 10, 97, or 100. Pro tip: download the Citymapper app to your phone to get accurate timings for bus arrivals. Get down at the bus stop opposite the old railway station (keep a lookout for construction hoardings!). Walk along Block 37 on your left; when you spot the side entrance, turn left to Block 39.
For those who’d rather take private hire, we have a goodie for you! Enjoy $5 off your Gojek ride to SAM at TPD by keying in the promo code, ‘GOSAM’. Psst, the code is available until fully redeemed, so fastest fingers first! If you’re driving or going via motorcycle, parking spaces are available nearby.
Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark
It’s easy to find SAM once you’ve reached Block 39 – the large black and white wall design is not hard to miss! Step inside the space, where you’ll find the reception foyer, two galleries with six-metre-high ceilings, an events space that can host programmes and activities, and a cosy food and beverage area.
SAM at TPD is committed to being accessible to all visitors, which we are delighted to hear! The galleries are wheelchair accessible; if you require a wheelchair, they are available for loan from the information and ticketing counter. Those with service dogs should email the museum two days in advance. Nursing rooms can be found on the third floor, while the baby changing station is located outside the toilet on level one.
Now let’s get on to the exhibitions that are currently at the museum…
Examine the global economy at Lonely Vectors
The third Lonely Vectors presentation takes place in Gallery 1, AKA the largest gallery in SAM at TPD. (The other two presentations are shown simultaneously at the museum’s hoarding in Bras Basah and Queen Street and public libraries across Singapore.) Visitors will get to look at the myriad ways humans connect to the world by exploring themes of the labour force and the boundaries between humans and non-humans. There are eight site-specific installations that museum-goers can go around and interact with.
Overall, we say this exhibition is geared more towards the older kids (13 years and above) and adults. Regardless, the little ones can still have some fun at Dioramas for Tanjong Rimau by Zarina Muhammad, Zachary Chan and Joel Tan, where they can test wind-powered instruments. Good for the gram! For those who have not experienced virtual reality, give it a go at local artist Ho Tzu Nyen’s H for Humidity. It was our first time trying out VR; simply put, it is quite the experience. (I had to sit down for a good few minutes just to centre myself and feel like I’m on hard ground…)
If your children love crabs, join this online workshop on Saturday, 25 June, conducted by taxonomist Dr Lee Bee Yan. Participants will learn fun facts about a crab’s anatomy and how to illustrate them.
Unleash your playful spirit at Superfluous Things: Paper
For the young and young at heart, this is a fun exhibition you’d want to explore. Superfluous Things: Paper at Gallery 2 transforms this ordinary material into extraordinary objects: miniature and larger-than-life paper sculptures, an imaginary floating city, and beautiful visual design.
Museumgoers will be mesmerised by Li Hongbo’s Land of Fairy Tales. The artwork features an imaginary world map of continents made of paper and pieced together in a honeycomb-like structure. Don’t forget to look up too – Eccentric City by Phunk and Keiichi Tanaami is an imaginary floating city that showcases the creators’ dual visions.
We reckon the artwork that’ll garner the most oohs and ahhs from the kids is Just a Little at a Time by paper sculptor Cheryl Teo. Each colourful miniature, the size of a matchbox, takes almost six hours to complete. There are over 80 sculptures that range from the most mundane, everyday things to fascinating sceneries. Curious about making your own matchbox home? Cheryl will be running paper sculpture workshops at SAM on Sunday, 26 June, and 17 July.
Psst, the fun doesn’t end there! Skip over to The Engine Room, where you get to interact with a blown-up version of Cheryl’s sculpture, get up close with a giant pop-up book, and create your own shadow-play story with paper cut-outs. Fun family-friendly activities and performances will also be held there.
Other things to look out for at the Singapore Art Museum
Besides the two abovementioned exhibitions, there are a few other things that visitors can look forward to when they’re at SAM at TPD.
Grab a cuppa (and some books) at Epigram Coffee Bookshop
While the kiddos are preoccupied with activities at The Engine Room, the adults can go sip some locally roasted coffee by Balestier Market Collective at the coffee bookshop. You can also browse over 450 titles in various genres while enjoying the quiet (but maybe brief?) moment. We spotted plenty of children’s books and some fun adult reads that you can purchase.
Pop by the SAM residencies at Level 3
With a floor space of over 1,300 square metres, the third level houses SAM’s corporate office as well as its Residences studios. It includes a central, open space known as The Main Deck, where programmes such as talks, film screenings, and open studio visits are held. The space will be open to the public from time to time, so keep a lookout for that.
Be enthralled by an AR installation
Spotted on the block adjacent to the museum is The Oort Cloud and the Blue Mountain, an installation work exclusive to SAM at TPD. Conceptualised by Hazel Lim-Schlegel and Andreas Schlegel in collaboration with Singapore design studio neuewave, visitors can take photos with the work as their backdrop and scan the QR codes to explore and interact with the virtual objects.
Spot another installation at the side entrance
You may not have realised it, but there’s actually another artwork that’s just casually hanging out by the side entrance! Michael Lee’s Creatif Compleks uses LED rope lights to depict his apprehensions about the country’s growing arts scene. This piece looks even better in the evening, as you’re leaving the museum after a day there.
Our verdict? Take the family here, stat!
Don’t let the distance turn you off; the location lends itself nicely to the museum. The port provides interesting views as you go about the space, and there’s coffee here if you need that perk-me-up. Once you’re done at SAM, go ahead and explore the rest of Tanjong Pagar for a meal and outdoor play, if your little one still has energy to burn.
SAM at TPD opens daily (including public holidays), 10am to 7pm. Admission is free for Singaporeans, permanent residents, children aged six and below, and persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Standard fees for adults are $10.
Have fun at the Singapore Art Museum, folks!