National Gallery Singapore may not a place you would think of bringing your kids to on a regular day out. Priding itself for having “the largest collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia” (source), that barely screams ‘kids-friendly’. In fact, its whole facade looked downright intimidating, considering it is housed in Singapore’s former Supreme Court and City Hall. Not the kind of place you would think of strolling in with your kids. Unless you’re in the know.
So I’m here today to tell you that National Gallery Singapore is, in fact, a very kids-friendly attraction! At least certain parts of it. The gallery is huge – I only covered half of it (the City Hall wing) during my visit. I didn’t even get to the other half (the Supreme Court Wing). In this post, I’m just going to highlight to you the kids-friendly sections of the gallery.
Keppel Centre for Art Education
The moment we entered National Gallery Singapore via the City Hall entrance, complete with stroller and kid, the staff directed us to Keppel Centre for Art Education nearby. I was thinking, “Eh… Why you so biased, I cannot go and see other exhibits with the kids meh??” But I asked politely, “Besides Keppel Centre for Art Education, are there any other exhibits suitable for kids?” and the staff was like, “Nope.” OKAY FINE. So off to the kiddie section we went!
Keppel Centre for Art Education was not just kids-friendly. It was totally BUILT FOR KIDS.
I thought the name ‘Centre for Art Education’ didn’t really do the gallery any favours. The name doesn’t sound very fun.. does it? I mean.. If I were a tourist flipping through a guide book and saw ‘Centre for Art Education’, I would flip right past it.
They should have called it ‘Children’s Fun Art Gallery’ or ‘Centre for Art through Play’ or something. Okay, I suck at coming up with names. But you know what I’m driving at. The name ‘Centre for Art Education’ kind of conceals all the fun (and FREE) activities within.
The first thing that greeted us was the bright and colourful Art Corridor!
MY couldn’t wait to get his hands on those colourful discs, which he slid through the tracks on the wall. The aim of the activity was to let kids explore colour mixing, as the colour of the translucent disc mixes with the different colours of the wall.
The staff at the art corridor was super nice and played with MY, and reassured me that all the noise MY was making from dropping the discs through the holes in the wall (which echoed throughout the very quiet National Gallery) was fine.
Art Playscape – The Enchanted Tree House
We moved on down the corridor and found ourselves at the Enchanted Tree House. Which reminded me a lot of Art Garden (now known as Imaginarium), one of my favourite annual event for children at Singapore Art Museum. During Art Garden 2013, we saw an exhibit just like this!
Upon entering the Enchanted Tree House, kids will feel like they have stepped into a story land. They could indulge in imaginative play.
Or sit down to read some books.
For MY, someone whom I wouldn’t exactly consider a book worm, the room was more like a playground. Where he crawled through tunnels.
Peeked through a periscope.
And talked to me through these metal tubes.
Project Gallery – Home-a-Sapiens
The next room we came to was a room where kids could sit down to do some crafting.
The name of the gallery was ‘Home-a-Sapiens‘, where the artist Tan Wee Lit has kids imagining about future sustainable homes.
In the free crafting activity, kids had to make these little cones to represent homes.
And within each cone, they had to draw in items they could find in personal and public spaces of their homes.
Visitors could also purchase a kit to make either a Flying Boat or Nomadic Bus for SGD4 per art kit. This activity was recommended for children age 5 and above.
Next, we came to a room that said ‘Children’s Museum‘.
It looked the least fun and most museum-ish, if you know what I mean.
Inside, there were artworks on display that made use of different materials and textures.
There was an activity that visitors could participate in to experiment with different materials and make pocket sculptures. It cost SGD2 per kit and was recommended for children age 5 and above.
The room next doors was a lot more fun. At least for 4 year-old MY. And everything there was free to play.
We started with the light tables, which reminded me of Busy Tables!
MY followed the sample tower on display to build his own tower. He was mighty pleased with the tower he constructed!
Along the walls, there were also magnetic boards for kids to create their own ‘art’. Check out the maze that MY created!
And next to the magnetic boards, there was a fortress made of cardboard boxes. I was quite glad MY didn’t decide to knock it over. It would have been quite a pain to build it back!
Then there was a colouring section where the colouring sheets were not so straightforward. They were made up of triangles and we had to exercise our creativity to come up with pictures using the triangles. There were samples on display to give up inspiration.
Clearly not every kid got the point. Including MY who was scribbling his own irregularly shaped monster without following the lines whatsoever.
And we were free to take home some postcards with pictures of the artworks on display at the Children’s Museum! If you’re from overseas, why not grab one and mail it home? 🙂
Interactive Area – Who’s in the Woods
We also found a special display called “Who’s in the Woods” in an area for children to explore digital art.
At the interactive station, kids could choose an animal and customise it using various colours and patterns.
After that, they could post their completed art work and watch their animal prance around on the big screen! If your kids enjoy activities like this, you should also check out Future World at Art Science Museum, or MOSH! at Sentosa.
Beyond Keppel Centre for Art Education, we also went around to explore the City Hall wing of National Gallery Singapore. We found this social table which was an interactive digital display of artworks.
At the social table, we could scroll through the artworks and select / save our favourites. We could also send recommendations to our friends at other corners of the table. MY had a lot of fun sending his favourite pictures over to me.
Using the artworks that we have saved, we could place them onto a canvas to create a poster and email the poster to ourselves as a memorabilia.
Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Gallery
For some ‘outdoor’ fun, head up to the roof garden gallery, where there were some wooden sculptures.
MY exercised his imagination, going “Come ride on my boat!” or “See, I’m riding a horse!”
Not just was this rooftop gallery lots of fun, I thought it was quite a nice photo spot.. no?
Dining at Yan Cantonese Cuisine
During our visit to National Gallery Singapore, we were invited for a media tasting at Yan, a Cantonese restaurant next to the rooftop gallery.
Stepping into Yan, it felt like we were still roaming around the gallery because of their beautiful interior decorations.
We enjoyed their Peking Duck (SGD40++ for half duck).
The kids always loved eating Peking Duck. They wrapped the skin in the homemade crepe, drizzled the sauce and popped them into their mouth one after another.
The meat of the Peking Duck was used to cook another dish, where the duck meat was stir-fried with nuts and vegetables. And we were served fresh lettuce to wrap the mix in. I super loved this dish, as the crunchy nuts with the savoury meat was so much fun to eat with the crunchy lettuce!
The dish that made all of us go ‘WOW’ was the steamed thousand layer beancurd (SGD22++). The way the beancurd was sliced so thinly is something I would never be able to achieve in my lifetime.
And we all loved the dessert! The chilled mango cream topped with vanilla ice cream and oats served in coconut (SGD12++) was perfect for Singapore’s mega hot and sunny weather!
[CNY Menu] Chilled Mango Cream Topped with Vanilla Ice Cream & Oats, 雪里飘香 (Part of $268++/pax 9 course CNY menu, or ala carte at $12++). 🔸 This is good. Beneath that vanilla ice cream is finely shaved iced using frozen coconut water, then topped with chunks of fresh mangoes and oats. Overall, it was a refreshing coconut iced dessert interspersed with the crisp from oats and soft pulpy sweet mangoes. We were all full from our meals but we finished this. My wife's favorite too 😋 🔸 I took this photo during an invited tasting hosted by @foodnewspr. #dessert #coconut #mango #icecream #chinesefood #chinesenewyear #cny2017
Information on Yan Cantonese Cuisine:
Address: #05-02 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road Singapore 178957
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm | Dinner: 6pm – 10.30pm
Tel: +65 63845585
There were nursing rooms on each floor of National Gallery Singapore, next to the toilet. Look for the heavy metallic door with the baby sign. Inside, you would find a diaper-changing mat, hot and cold water dispenser, and a stool for nursing moms to sit down to nurse their baby. The room had enough floor space for you to push your stroller inside and close the door behind. You can lock the door when you’re nursing if you need privacy.
Information on National Gallery Singapore
Address: 1 St. Andrew’s Rd, Singapore 178957
Getting There: 5 min walk from City Hall MRT (EW13 | NS25)
- Sun–Thu, Public Holidays: 10am–7pm
- Fri–Sat, Eve of Public Holidays: 10am–10pm
- Admission to Keppel Centre for Art Education and restaurants are FREE.
- Admission fees may apply for other exhibit areas in National Gallery in Singapore. Click here for more information.
Tel: +65 6271 7000
Read more reviews on: TripAdvisor
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