Happily, the collection at the blandly named Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is anything but. Opened in 1996, the museum boasts the largest public collection of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artwork found anywhere in the world. It’s almost as though the museum was a portrait of the ambitious city-state itself, only in microcosm.
Having burst onto the scene with a single-minded mission to rival the best that this modern world has to offer, SAM, like Singapore, with its astronomical rate of commercial and architectural development since the early 1960s, stands as a testament to the strength of mankind when it comes to plotting, planning, building and maximizing human endeavor on a massive scale.
SAM also suffers a considerable shortcoming shared by its patron city─the range and scope of its interests are somewhat limited. But the institution has been working to remedy this failing in recent years, and its collection of international contemporary art is growing steadily.
In the meantime, let’s focus on the many wonders that SAM has to offer. Within the sphere of Southeast Asian art, the institution is unparalleled in breaking new ground, celebrating, exhibiting, nurturing, and supporting some of the most ambitious and cutting-edge works of art available anywhere.
8Q, an accompanying art space, opened in 2008. It features multi-disciplinary and interactive art with an emphasis on providing a place where the public can directly interface with the work of living artists.
Admission to both spaces is extremely affordable, with discounts for students and seniors. Hours of operation are Monday-Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., with extended hours on Fridays.