Looking for more long weekend activities to keep you and the kiddos entertained, mama? Check out the Keppel Centre for Art Education at the brand new National Gallery Singapore…Psst! We hear the crowds are actually bearable!
Last weekend my family and I visited the Keppel Centre for Art Education at National Gallery Singapore. Despite the fact that this is a new attraction—the Centre opened in late November—and that it was Singapore Art Week (an annual nine-day celebration of visual art), there were no more than a dozen children and their families in this space.
The Centre’s four galleries—Art Corridor, Art Playscape, Project Gallery, and Children’s Museum—each showcase commissioned artworks (changed annually), and invite children to play, make, and curate.
The Art Corridor and the Project Gallery were a disappointment, to be honest. The Art Corridor promised an “interactive art installation with movable parts,” but neither the colours, patterns, or rhythms “worked” to produce anything engaging or entertaining. In the Project Gallery, “Home-a-Sapiens” by Tan Wee Lit imagines future homes as sustainable, individual units, underground and in the sky. Here, families purchased pre-designed, pre-cut “kits” of buses and boats (suggested price: SG$4.00) that required children to merely assemble, not create. Nearly all the collaborative art pieces made by visitors looked exactly the same; where’s the fun and creativity in that?
Much more engaging were the Art Playscape and the Children’s Museum. The Art Playscape features “The Enchanted Tree House,” a fantastical open play area by Sandra Lee invites visitors to “enter a painting” (the floors and ceiling of this space are lusciously painted), meet new friends, and create adventures. My four-year-old found much joy and discovery here.
The Children’s Museum featured a recreation of the studio of Milenko Prvacki (titled “Visual Dictionary”) and gave my child a behind-the-scenes look at both the artist’s and the museum’s creative processes. Here, she handled objects, tools, and journals, wrote a postcard to the artist, and described the artist’s works in her own words.
However, to my surprise and dismay, none of the activities were inspired by works currently on display, and I was looking forward to making connections between the works she saw on our walkthrough of the Museum’s special exhibitions – “Siapa Nama Kamu: Art in Singapore Since the 19th Century” and “Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century” – which collectively showcase about 800 pieces drawn from the museum’s collection of 8,000 works and the Centre. The Keppel Centre for Art Education seemed more like a separate, set-aside space than one fully integrated with the Museum and its activities.
Admission to the Keppel Centre for Art Education is always free. The Centre is open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 10am to 10pm. The National Gallery Singapore will be open throughout Chinese New Year, from 10am to 7pm.
The National Gallery of Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957, Tel: (+65) 6271 7000, www.nationalgallery.sg