Top 5 cultural spots around Singapore Management University

by Karl Gan, Lee Kong Chian School of Business 

Singapore is many things: island nation, destination of choice for regional tourists, and metropolitan city. Like its counterparts New York City, Paris, London, and Hong Kong, Singapore has a thriving arts and cultural scene that is experiencing major growth at the moment. Take it from me, a second-going-on-third year SMU student studying a second major in Arts and Culture Management (ACM): Singapore is a culture hub to be reckoned with.

Art and cultural hotspots are everywhere in Singapore, right at our footsteps—especially since we’re in a school at the heart of Singapore’s bustling cityscape.

So in case you’re bored this summer and find yourself in school one afternoon after running some errands or upon completing some school camps, here are five wonderful places you can check out to broaden your horizon.

Singapore Art Museum

1)     Singapore Art Museum

If you’ve ever looked across the Campus Green and wondered what that white building with its statuesque columns is, it is the Singapore Art Museum (SAM). Its polished, pristine exterior reflects largely its interior—a well-kept and maintained museum that boasts stunning and impressive contemporary art. In art circles, SAM is renowned for having amassed one of the world’s largest public collections of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks. They have cleverly leveraged on selected art pieces to encourage the discussion of broader issues and nurture creative and analytical thinking among its visitors.

Medium at Large, the museum’s resident exhibition, delves into the variety of mediums used in contemporary art, ranging from primitive oil paints to unique human hairs and live bullet shells. How about seeing the world through your other senses at the Sensorium 360°, a visual art exhibition running until 22 October 2014, that moves beyond vision to experience the world in-the-round.

Free for Singaporeans, visit the SAM for a break away from student life. When you’re done admiring and studying the pieces, take a seat at the Italian restaurant Olio Dome and order a refreshing cup of hot joe to continue your artistic explorations.


Singapore Art Museum (SAM)


71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555

How much

Free for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, $10 for adults and $5 for foreign students



National Museum Singapore. Image © of National Heritage Board

2)     National Museum of Singapore

The National Museum of Singapore is Singapore’s oldest museum, and it is a short walk away from the SMU School of Social Sciences, making it a perfect companion for one of the flagship ACM courses “Introduction to Museum Management”. Featuring a collection of Singapore’s greatest artefacts including 10 National Treasures, and various other local exhibitions, the National Museum is one of Singapore’s hallmarks for culture and history.

With Cinematique, the National Museum’s film exhibition programme, you can watch various films from all over the world during their World Cinema Series, which is shown every second Tuesday of the month.


National Museum of Singapore


93 Stamford Road, Singapore 17889

How much

Entry: Free for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, $10 for adults and $5 for foreign students.

World Cinema Series: $9 Adult, $7.40 Concession Price


The Substation Facade. Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: Jack Lee

3)     The Substation

The Substation is a well-known establishment in the arts scene, having been around since 1990. Priding itself on being an all-inclusive arts incubation space and performance ground, it was founded by the late visionary, playwright, and artist Kuo Pao Kun to pioneer new and experimental art forms. As such, The Substation consistently teams up with artists and writers to create groundbreaking, innovative work.

In the month of September, The Substation celebrates its 24th birthday through a series of events. For students who have been to the gallery, you would see that it requires some serious repairs. How about bidding for an artwork at their fundraising exhibition or contribute as little as $10 in their crowdfunding campaign?


The Substation


45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936, behind the SMU School of Accountancy

How much

Free entry but event charges apply accordingly.


15 Minutes. Image Source: 15 Minutes Facebook Page

4)     LASALLE College of the Arts

LASALLE College of the Arts is one of the many arts institutions around the Dhoby Ghaut area, along with Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and School of the Arts (SOTA). Both contributor and product of the area’s high artistic atmosphere, LASALLE’s campus boasts a bright green astroturf that gives students the perfect place to kick back their shoes, relax, brainstorm, and let their creative juices flow.

If you’re hungry, 15 Minutes, a chic, independent café housed within the campus that takes inspiration from Andy Warhol’s famous “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” comment, serves savoury hamburgers at reasonable prices.


LASALLE College of the Arts


1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

How much

Free entry.

My Art Space. Image Source: My Art Space Facebook Page

5)     My Art Space

A popular recreational idea these days is the Art-cum-Café concept, where patrons pay to sit down and immerse themselves in painting and the creation of artworks, while sipping lattes or munching on home-baked delights. In Singapore, it is especially popular because it combines an afternoon of relaxation with a local favourite pastime of hanging out in cafes. And if you are ever shy about your artistic abilities, don’t be. An art café serves to open up your sensibilities and exposes you to the various types of art possible.

Feel free to paint large stark landscapes with watercolours, or abstract pieces with minimal art, or self-portraits with the help of some well-placed windows and mirrors in the café. You can sign up for one-shot sessions, packages spanning several weeks, or workshops with art instruction. It’s a great way to pass some time, and get a good piece of work to hang on your walls at the same time.


My Art Space


Istana Park, 31 Orchard Road, Singapore 238888 (opposite Park Mall)

How much

Art Jamming Session: $60 per pax for 2 hours, inclusive of a 16×20 inch canvas, tool rental, unlimited acrylic paint, wet painting carrier, and 1 fruit juice of the day.

Creative Painting Introductory Workshop: $60 only for a 3-hour lesson, inclusive of all materials rental and drink of the day.


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