The history of City Hall to come alive at the 'City Hall: If Walls Could Talk' exhibition

Sheila Chiang
Lifestyle contributor
City Hall: If Walls Could Talk Exhibition. (PHOTO: National Gallery Singapore)

SINGAPORE – From today onwards, see history unfold right before your eyes at the ‘City Hall: If Walls Could Talk’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Singapore. In conjunction with the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration in 2019, this immersive exhibition takes you through the long-standing and colourful history of City Hall.

The City Hall has been declared as one of the national monuments of Singapore. The building was first completed in 1929 and has served as a bomb shelter during the Japanese Occupation and housed Singapore’s first Public Complaints Bureau.

Slated to run for two years till 29 August 2021, the immersive multimedia experience in the City Hall Chamber takes audience through the rich stories and evolving functions of the building in decades past as Singapore grew from colony to city-state – and in more recent times – when it transformed into National Gallery Singapore. This is the first long-term exhibition staged within the Chamber.

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Ms Suenne Megan Tan, Director (Audience Development & Engagement) of National Gallery Singapore shared the significance of this exhibition: “In the course of Singapore’s history, many have congregated in front of City Hall to rally around worthy causes that reflected our ideals, values, hopes and aspirations. It is for this reason that we continue to celebrate our independence in front of this building.

Events that have marked key moments in our history have taken place in and around City Hall and the Former Supreme Court, which now form National Gallery Singapore, and since our opening visitors have shown a keen interest to learn about the history of these national monuments. As a museum for the people, we wanted to create this exhibition so that City Hall can continue to be a place where important memories can be shared, and to which future generations of Singaporeans can return to learn and experience the connection between history and art.”

City Hall: If Walls Could Talk Exhibition. (PHOTO: National Gallery Singapore)

Upon entering the City Hall Chamber, visitors will first be invited to capture images of themselves at customised photo stations. After which, visitors can scan the QR code generated and they will be taken to a link with their images set against the City Hall building as the backdrop for keepsake.

Next, guided by “Encik Awang” – a character inspired by a real-life caretaker – they will embark on a multi-sensorial historical journey through the key national events that took place at the building. They see what was then the Municipal Building when it was first completed and witness its evolving roles over the years, each of which marked pivotal moments in Singapore’s history and development as a nation.

At the end of the exhibition, visitors will have a better understanding of its transformation from being the space for government bodies in the early years of Singapore’s independence to becoming the home to the world’s largest public collection of Southeast Asian art today.

General admission applies to the exhibition. For more information, please visit www.nationalgallery.sg

City Hall: If Walls Could Talk Exhibition

1 September 2019 – 29 August 2021

10AM – 7PM

National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Rd, Singapore 178957