October 28, 2019 - National Gallery Singapore - Opening of the Rotunda Library and Archive
October 28, 2019

National Gallery Singapore

Rotunda Library & Archive, National Gallery Singapore

Opening of the Rotunda Library and Archive
October 12, 2019

National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew's Rd
Singapore 178957
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–7pm,
Friday–Saturday 10am–10pm

T +65 6271 7000

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On October 12, 2019, National Gallery Singapore inaugurated its Rotunda Library & Archive in the beautiful rotunda space at the heart of the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery. This iconic room, formerly the Law Library of the Supreme Court of Singapore, has been transformed by local architects Brewin Design Office to revive its historical function while imbuing the space with its new role as a hub for the study of art history in Southeast Asia. 

National Gallery Singapore was established in 2015 as a leading visual arts institution overseeing the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art. It is guided by its curatorial vision of presenting and reflexively (re)writing the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia, and to examine these art histories in relation to the global history of art. In support of this vision, the Rotunda Library & Archive houses one of the world’s most comprehensive holdings of Singapore and Southeast Asian art-historical resources from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. 

The Rotunda Library & Archive collection comprises approximately 20,000 physical and digital items, including rare publications, exhibition catalogues, ephemera, and digital archives. Since it was established under the Gallery’s Resource Centre in 2015, the collection has grown steadily through generous donations and partnerships with prominent artists and the estates of pioneers of Southeast Asian modern art such as Georgette Chen and Lim Hak Tai (Singapore), S. Sudjojono (Indonesia) and the Kalaw Ledesma Foundation (Philippines). Over this time, it has become an increasingly important resource on the art of the region for a growing number of local, regional and international researchers.

In tandem with the inauguration of the Rotunda Library & Archive was the introduction of a new online collections search portal connected to an integrated database of Gallery’s library and archive as well as artwork collection (www.collections.nationalgallery.sg). Enabling greater physical and digital access to the Gallery’s collection and its long-term display of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art—the only one of its kind in the world—will stimulate further study and encourage greater appreciation of the region’s rich and complex art histories; they demonstrate National Gallery Singapore’s commitment to knowledge production and the development of art scholarship in, and for, Singapore, Southeast Asia and the world.

To launch the Rotunda Library & Archive, the symposium “Annotations: Art + Archive in Southeast Asia” was held on 12 October, featuring voices from the domains of art history, artistic and curatorial practice, and digital humanities. The discursive programme brought together several generations of researchers, scholars, curators and archivists working in the region to share their perspectives on key issues and new modalities in archival work in Southeast Asia. These included ways of activating the archive within the museum and beyond, and exploring its wider potential as a compelling site of critical possibilities. Featured speakers: Cheng Jia Yun (Singapore), Chu Chu Yuan (Singapore/Malaysia), Kevin Forkan (Hong Kong/Ireland), Shubigi Rao (Singapore), TK Sabapathy (Singapore), Simon Soon (Malaysia), David Smith (Hong Kong/United Kingdom), Clare Veal (Singapore/Australia) and Farah Wardani (Singapore/Indonesia).

National Gallery Singapore
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