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Inside The National Gallery

Set to officially open in November 2015, a recent pre-opening tour of the city’s highly anticipated National Gallery Singapore revealed multiple historical spaces within the repurposed double monuments.

Inside The National Gallery

Top Image: Underside of the Main Dome. Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

After three years of intensive planning, followed by another four years of extensive remodelling, the National Gallery Singapore organised a pre-opening tour of its naked premises last weekend. Set to officially open in Q4, Singapore’s largest visual arts destination sits within the old City Hall (built late 20s) and former Supreme Court (built late 30s) – combining to a total floor area of 64,000 square metres. Both monuments are conjoined within the basement and linked via two sky bridges within.

National Gallery Singapore
Former Supreme Court. Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

The architects behind the restoration and transformation of both monuments are studioMilou Singapore and CPG Consultants. Some of the original rooms such as the Courtroom, and the City Chamber, bearing notes of history belonging to the city have been preserved, alongside new enhancements and facilities. Out of both, the Supreme Court Building consists of the most preserved premises. Taking a walk through the institute, it was intended that the key conserved spaces serve as backdrop for the appreciation of the Southeast Asian art that will soon inhabit the buildings.

Atrium. Photo: National Gallery Singapore

Link Bridges: Upper Link and Lower Link

Two sky bridges – an upper (level 4) and lower (level 3) bridge link both City Hall and former Supreme Court. Located at the atrium where the main entrance is, the bridges offer grand vistas of the buildings. A substantial patterned glass roof flows through the buildings and allow natural light to fill the space. “The architect had to work with all the level changes, where the building had different floor levels. Even the bridges that we walk across are slightly ramped to adjust to it,” says Sushma Goh, Director of Project & Facilities Management at the National Gallery Singapore.

National Gallery Singapore
Holding Cells

Holding Cells in the Supreme Court Wing

Being a former court house, there were holding cells built to hold suspects awaiting trial. Two of the cells were preserved in its entirety, with an external flushing system lodged on the top wall outside the cells.

Supreme Court Foyer. Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

Supreme Court Foyer

The original flooring of the foyer was restored with its eight-sided foundation stone left intact, where underneath, a time capsule is buried due to be retrieved in year 3000.

National Gallery
Supreme Court Lobby. Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

Supreme Court Lobby

The historical lobby was conserved with restored flooring and ceiling, The third floor will house the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, a permanent exhibition focusing on modern Southeast Asian art.

Original worn out rubber tiles were replaced by marble tiles rendered in the exact pattern.



The cabinets in the courtroom remained, while some furniture were removed from site for restoration work and then brought back to the space.

The Library (inside the Rotunda Dome). Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

The Library

This was originally a library before it was turned into a police post. Now, columns and cabinets have been restored. Below the curved furniture, air vents that once allow fresh air in to ventilate the space were kept intact. Within this dome, a wall was broken down to introduce a light well.

Outside the Rotunda Dome at the Supreme Court Terrace

Supreme Court Terrace

Like the rooftop of the City Hall, the rooftop of the former Supreme Court was previously empty and not opened to public. However, visitors can now enjoy strolls around the Rotunda dome and relax under a sky roof. The space also features a green corridor and a tree-like structure.

National Gallery Singapore
Supreme Court Balcony, Photo: Darren Soh & National Gallery Singapore

Supreme Court Balcony

These columns at the Supreme Court entrance were designed by the Italian sculptor, Rudolfo Nolli, who also designed the building’s tympanum which symbolises justice.


City Hall Chamber

This grandest room of the building, the City Hall Chamber has hosted many important events in Singapore’s historical milestones, such as where the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in as Singapore’s first Prime Minister. Some of the chamber’s key architectural features were restored, such as its brass capital and majestic marble columns.


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National Gallery

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