Art in Singapore isn’t just reserved for the walls of galleries — it can be found all over the country. After all, what’s a modern metropolis without good art and design? Here are some tours that will appeal to the art lovers among us.

National Gallery Singapore: Building Highlights Tour
Photo by National Gallery Singapore

History buffs, we’ve got just the tour for you. Listen to stories of Singapore’s past as you explore the National Gallery Singapore, formerly the Supreme Court and City Hall. The hour-long tour will open your eyes to the history of the buildings and their role in watershed moments in Singapore’s history, like the City Hall chamber where the WWII signing of surrender took place in 1945. Visitors will also learn about aspects of the National Gallery’s sophisticated design such as its glass canopy, intricately-designed columns and staggering high ceilings, and how it transformed into the gorgeous museum that it is today.

To book, email info@nationalgallery.sg. This tour is free. For more information, read here.


Art Outreach: Art in Transit NEL/CCL Tour

The average city dweller frequents MRT stations, from the daily grind to the weekend bustle. It helps that the interiors of Singapore’s daily commute is beautified with art, especially along the North-East and Circle MRT lines. Sign up for the Art in Transit NEL/CCL Tour to see some of the best public art in Singapore.

Tour highlights include a mural at Dhoby Ghaut station titled Universal Language by one of Singapore’s leading artists, Sun Yu-li, alongside beautiful mosaics and ceramics by artists Milenko and Delia Prvacki. The two-hour walking tour also covers the rich heritage of the neighbourhoods and communities along the two MRT lines. At Dakota station on the Circle MRT line, you’ll find Little Things, Little Stories by A Dose of Light. The exhibit pays homage to the old neighbourhood of Dakota and its residents by sharing objects from their homes.

To book, email enquiries@artoutreachprogram.org. For more information, read here. This tour is free.


The Esplanade Co Ltd: Esplanade Tour and Esplanade Walk
Photo by Afur Wong

Ask someone what the most unique-looking building in the city is, and they’ll probably point you towards the ‘durians’ of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, one of Singapore’s premier performing arts centres (durians are known as ‘the king of fruits’, and the architecture of the Esplanade is said to resemble a durian’s spikes). Sign up for the 45-minute-long Esplanade Walk to find out just how these ‘durian spikes’ and other design features contribute to the functionality of the arts venue. Gain more insight on the architecture and history of the building as you walk through its Concert Hall, Theatre and other front-of-house facilities. For a more extensive behind-the-scenes look at the arts hub, join the two-hour Esplanade Tour, which will grant you access to the orchestra pits, dressing rooms, artist lounges and more — it’s the ultimate backstage pass.

To book the Esplanade Tour or Esplanade Walk, email foh@esplanade.com or call +65 6828 8377. Tickets are $10/adult, $8/child and $8/senior.


Hotel Vagabond Singapore: Hotel Vagabond Guided Tour

Some hotels are merely a comfy room to retire in at the end of the day — but not Hotel Vagabond. Located in the heart of Little India, the boutique hotel oozes personality. Sign up for the Hotel Vagabond Tour and explore the hotel’s lush “maximalist” design – think alluring, dark lighting and red velvet drapes. Also, keep a lookout for the many art pieces adorning its walls and corridors — you’ll be greeted by a gold elephant sculpture the moment you step into the lobby.

Spend the hour unpacking the meaning of these static and moving art pieces (look out for one in the lobby elevator) with your expert tour guide. You may even get to rub shoulders with the artists themselves, as the hotel hosts an Artist-in-Residence programme for artists all over the world to showcase their works.

To book, call +65 6291 6677. For more information, read here. This tour is free.


Friends of the Museum: Gillman Barracks Art & History Tour

Admire world-class contemporary art works at Gillman Barracks, one of Singapore’s hippest art venues decked in elegant, colonial-style architecture. Appreciate the artwork of established and emerging local and international artists, while learning about their practices, techniques and inspirations. The one-and-a-half-hour tour covers approximately five galleries, and the focus is not solely on modern art — it also serves up a slice of history, tracing Gillman Barrack’s evolution from a British military barracks in 1936 to the contemporary art enclave that it is today.

Book online and read more about the tour here. This tour is free.


One Farrer Hotel & Spa: The Farrer Park Company Art Collection and Gardens Guided Tour

Another hotel bringing its art ‘game’ to a new level is One Farrer Hotel & Spa. The hotel’s collection of artworks includes works by established and emerging artists, with sixty percent of their collection made up of works by local artists. The rest of the art on display showcases cultures and countries of Greater Asia. You can even take some artworks home if they catch your eye — pieces from the hotel’s Chairman’s collection and in-lift vertical gallery are for sale. Art isn’t the only thing you’ll treat your eyes to on this hour-long tour – you’ll also get to see the hotel’s beautiful gardens and in-house urban farm.

To book, call +65 6705 7896. For more information, read here. This tour is free.