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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Historical Objects and Masterpieces at the National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - External 2

Historical Objects and Masterpieces at the National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore focuses on displaying Singapore and Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present day. Through its collection, the Gallery presents the development of Singaporean and regional cultures.

National Gallery Singapore features works by major Singaporean artists such as Georgette Chen, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng and Liu Kang. The collection also holds pieces from Southeast Asian artists, such as Affandi (Indonesia), Latiff Mohidin (Malaysia), Le Pho (Vietnam), Montien Boonma (Thailand) and Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (Philippines).

Among the many historical and cultural objects in the National Gallery Singapore, the following are highlights:

Historical Documents in the former Supreme Court building

  • Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
    • The Treaty of Friendship and Alliance was concluded between the Honourable Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and their Highnesses Sultan Hussain Mahummed Shah, Sultan of Johore, and Datoo Tumungong Sri Maharajah Abdul Rahman, the Malay chief of Singapore. The Johor Sultanate was the successor of the Malacca Sultanate. Raffles entered into this treaty in 1819 granting the English East India Company the right to establish a factory or factories in Singapore.
  • Raffles’ Regulations
    • This is a contemporary copy of Raffles’ Regulations, which were issued in 1823. These regulations represent the earliest attempt by the British to introduce a legal code for Singapore. The British assumed that no law prevailed on the island of Singapore when it was acquired.
  • 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
    • The 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance is also known as the Crawfurd Treaty or Final Treaty for the Cession of Singapore. This treaty ceded Singapore to the East India Company. The agreement was ratified by the British Supreme Government at Calcutta in 1825 and the British Parliament in 1826. This document allowed the British to confirm their title over Singapore.
  • Third Charter of Justice
    • The Third Charter of Justice affirmed the English law in Singapore. By the 1830s, Singapore’s trade and population were booming and increasingly powerful voices demanded the appointment of a separate professional judge for Singapore. This led to the Third Charter of Justice being granted.
  • Proclamation of Japanese Military Administration in Malaya
    • This Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya was prepared in 1941, in advance of Japan’s victory. When the British surrendered Singapore in 1942, the Japanese established a military administration in Singapore.

Historical Art and Culture in the Galleries

  • “Boschbrand” (Forest Fire) by Raden Saleh
    • “Boschbrand” (Forest Fire) by Raden Saleh depicts a dramatic scene where numerous wild animals have been chased by a forest fire to edge of a precipice. This monumental work and elaborate composition is set in a Javanese setting and was painted after Saleh had been in Europe for 20 years.

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“A given excuse that was not asked for, implies guilt.”
– Singaporean / Malay Proverb

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Photo Credit: JOM

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