Best Artsy Spots
Image by JASON ANFINSEN under Creative Commons License.

Singapore, Singapore Guide (D): Best Artsy Spots

Taking a visit to Singapore, the rapidly developing global city state? Don’t miss out on its equally rapidly flourishing arts scene! Including art-themed sites from popular museums to obscure but lovable bookshops and cafes, this guide is equipped with 15 of Singapore's finest artistic attractions, aiming to provide a fun and gratifying experience for lovers of the visual and literary arts, or who simply crave a taste of Singaporean art culture.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Attractions Map

Guide Name: Best Artsy Spots
Guide Location: Singapore » Singapore
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Destinations: 15
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Singapore Arts Museum   ArtScience Museum   BooksActually   The Substation   The Picturehouse   Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay   Polymath & Crust   The Arts House   Casual Poet   Cups N Canvas   Red Dot Design Museum   Woods in the Books   Littered with Books   Artistry Cafe   Youth Olympic Park  
Author: Valerie Chee
Author Bio: Valerie resides in the extremely happening, occasionally overwhelming island-city of Singapore. Her days are spent pursuing her interests in art and dance, as well as her ambition to one day become the proud author of a published novel. She enjoys exploring the city with her friends to seek out those little quiet and charming spaces tucked away from the public eye- those spaces of which you might sometimes even dare to claim as your own.
1
Singapore Arts Museum

1) Singapore Arts Museum

At the first mention of 'art', the Singapore Art Museum immediately comes to mind. As one of Singapore's most popular and treasured national monuments, it is prided for holding the world's largest public collection of contemporary Southeast Asian artworks. Once housing the Catholic school St. Joseph's Institution (SJI), the SAM building has since been restored to display paintings, sculptures and installations from both iconic artists and emerging practitioners in 18 climate-controlled galleries across three storeys, complete with dining areas and museum shops to enhance the tourist experience. With the extreme diversity of contemporary art made available for your viewing pleasure, it is not at all uncommon to spend an entire afternoon comfortably enjoying the rich cultural environment pieced together by the variety of artistic genres. In addition, look out for notifications on the SAM website indicating up-and-coming exhibitions held specially at the museum, and centered around unique themes to inspire quiet rumination and reflection in the viewer, while at the same time creating a dynamic and visually exciting environment for exploratory learning. Whether it's a visit to the SAM Learning Gallery, or an exhibition showcasing the most recently developed facets of fine art, the high-tech, interactive learning space in the SAM is tailored to those of all ages, and is definitely worth the memorable, enriching experience.
Image by User:Sengkang under Creative Commons License.
2
ArtScience Museum

2) ArtScience Museum

Come one, come all to the world's very first ArtScience museum! Frequently described as the shape of a lotus flower, the bold architecture of the building is meant to symbolize Singapore's movement towards constructing highly modernized, high-tech attractions. The ArtScience museum has been renowned for exhibiting the works of iconic artists including Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, as well as historical artifacts and the sets of famous movies such as Harry Potter and Titanic. Navigation of the museum and its exhibits is made convenient with the provision of handheld audio guides. High quality service paired with major international touring exhibitions may sound pretty good so far, but there's more. After all, the ArtScience Museum is also known as the Museum of Creativity- and this name was given for a reason. The ArtScience Gallery, i.e. the museum's permanent exhibition, is categorized uniquely into three sections- Curiosity, Inspiration and Expression. Each is designed to portray the union of art and science in human discovery and to acquaint the viewer with the complexity of the human mind's creative process. Finally, to complete the museum experience, be sure to check out the ArtScience Museum website for current exhibition activities and public programmes. These interactive and fun events are great opportunities to try your hand at something new, examples from past workshops including creating your own photogram and cyanotype print making.
Image by William Cho under Creative Commons License.
3
BooksActually

3) BooksActually

Step into this quaint little bookshop and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the incongruence of its charmingly designed interior with the plainness of the surrounding area. BooksActually rose to popularity due to its excellent selection of literary classics as well as quality fictional pieces, including works ranging from obscure to iconic, and centered around Singaporean and Southeast Asian literature. Many of the books curated are difficult to find elsewhere, so take your time picking out a couple for purchase before you leave. With the widest collection of Singapore literary publications, this indie bookshop will not disappoint with its spectrum of quality reads spanning over a variety of topics, and can ensure you a good couple hours of enthusiastic browsing. Even if you’re just stopping by for a quick browse, be sure to explore the vintage setup of the bookshop, which makes it stand out amongst other high-tech, commercialized bookstores. Venturing into the back of the store, you’ll find an expansive collection of local artefacts which almost construct the atmosphere of a small, homely heritage museum. Also look out for the limited edition hand-stitched notebooks and vintage handmade stationery that add to the store’s distinct artistic taste. Loved by many and inspiring to all, it’s just too easy to let BooksActually grow close to your heart. After your visit, head on over to the nearby Forty Hands Cafe, Drips or The Orange Thimble for a quick snack to end off your trip.
4
The Substation

4) The Substation

The Substation is Singapore’s very first contemporary arts centre- with a dedicated mission to advocate all genres and forms of artistic practice. Founded in 1990, the centre was a radical site that played a significant role in shaping the local arts community, and has ever since been immersed in the serious business of researching, supporting and promoting the arts. You can expect to find high quality exhibitions ranging across a rich variety of artistic mediums, such as musical performances, theatre, sculpture and painting exhibitions, as well as film screenings. The immeasurable historical and cultural value of the Substation has made it into an undeniably worthy go-to place for artistic inspiration and learning.
Image by Jacklee under Creative Commons License.
5
The Picturehouse

5) The Picturehouse

With the respectable title of Singapore's very first arts house cinema as well as the leading distributor of independent films in Singapore and Malaysia, the Picturehouse provides a hugely satisfying reprieve from those highly commercialized Hollywood blockbuster movies which so many patronize. Films screened here may not have as much hype surrounding them as those screened in typical cinemas, but they definitely measure up in quality. If you're up for something new and unique, take a seat in the Picturehouse and enjoy indie films with an artistic flavour, including international features and regional award winners. After the movie, feel free to explore the lower storeys of the Cathay, where you'll find a generous array of eating places and other amenities.
6
Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay

6) Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay

Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay is undoubtedly one of the top must-see tourist attractions in Singapore. Locals and tourists alike flock to visit this massive high-end centre of performing arts, where shopping, dining and performance venues come together as one to create a happening and classy environment. Astound your senses with the musical and visual finesse you will find here at Esplanade, and later take a stroll at the conveniently proximate Esplanade Park, where you can observe several historical landmarks while simply enjoying the outdoors. Esplanade- Theatres by the Bay promises a variety of festivals and programmes suited for anyone of any age, and is key to completing the Singapore art experience.
Image by Formulax under Creative Commons License.
7
Polymath & Crust

7) Polymath & Crust

Kenny and Karen, the owners of indie bookstore BooksActually, followed up its success with a second bookstore, Polymath & Crust. Though polar opposites, the two bookshops have both been filled with quality reads, obscure and iconic alike. While Booksactually specializes in fiction and literature, Polymath & Crust complements it with the exact opposite selection of books- non-fiction reads covering a staggeringly large variety of theoretical subjects, as well as a massive collection of maps. The whole atmosphere deviates from BooksActually's escapist, vintage theme as well, instead settling for a more serious, literary atmosphere. Awe-inspiring is the collection of rare, obscure (and some even out-of-print!) books on display in the store. This gem of a bookstore will delight avid readers, lovers of knowledge and really anyone who can appreciate a good book. In addition, the store has a stock of tea for anyone who might want to enjoy some during their browsing- this quirky feature stems from Kenny and Karen's love for tea, and is just one of the charming ways they've added their personal taste to the business.
Image by Pat Law under Creative Commons License.
8
The Arts House

8) The Arts House

Singapore's first court house converted into a heritage and arts centre- that is the history of Singapore's top of the notch multi-disciplinary arts centre, the Arts House. With a tangible resilience to remain relevant to Singaporean society, this literary arts centre takes on an incredible list of events, with new exciting programmes arranged on virtually every day of their website’s event calendar. These events cover almost everything under the arts, from dance festivals, film screenings and theatrical performances to literary art, visual art and musical performances. All this is experienced in the enviable comfort of the centre facilities, such as the Film Gallery and the Print Gallery, where you can check out the latest exhibitions. Also be sure to visit Earshot Cafe, a charming cafe-cum-bookstore with a relaxing ambience, dedicated to the promotion of Singaporean books, music and film. Towards the end of your visit, if you’re looking for a souvenir to take home from this magnificent building, you won’t be disappointed with the selection of stylishly designed products on sale in The Shop, also including certain products developed exclusively by The Arts House!
Image by JASON ANFINSEN under Creative Commons License.
9
Casual Poet

9) Casual Poet

The Casual Poet cafe gets its magnetic appeal partially from its carefree, relaxing atmosphere. But more importantly, this unassuming cafe on the second storey of an old shophouse just happens to be a cosy little bookstore as well! Besides its collection of Mandarin and English books and magazines, the store has a treasure trove of little trinkets, stationery and albums. Over the years, this simply yet beautifully furnished cafe-cum-bookstore has gathered itself a warm community of art-lovers and travellers who seek a short escapade from the bustling city life. Be sure to stop by for a quick coffee while you browse the fine selection of books and merchandise, because you won’t regret a second of it.
Image by Kareen Lee under Creative Commons License.
10
Cups N Canvas

10) Cups N Canvas

Love art? Crave coffee? At Cups N Canvas, you can have as much of either as you want! This humble cafe has a key selling point besides its great food and homely atmosphere- its art studio! Anyone with a passion for the visual arts can drop by for a little tuition on painting, drawing and even print making. Or simply sit by with your coffee and watch the artists at work, young and old alike. Either way, Cups N Canvas is a great rustic, cozy recluse which will bring out the creative side of you, and is definitely worth a visit.
Image by Amasou Umasou under Creative Commons License.
11
Red Dot Design Museum

11) Red Dot Design Museum

The Red Dot Design Museum portrays our era of contemporary design in the form of more than two hundred award winning futuristic design concept art pieces. In a mind boggling display of both 2D and 3D artworks, this museum is just brimming with amazing ideas and whimsical designs. Take a look into the minds of the creative talents who developed the exhibited designs, and even get a chance to interact with the fascinating 3D models which lend new perspective into the everyday role of contemporary design in our modern society. If you’d like to try something even more adventurous, pick up the Design Journey guide which can be found in the museum itself, and embark on a half-day or full-day design route which will take you to a variety of enthralling and unique sites, where your senses will be captivated by visual finesse, and you can learn more about the purpose and value of contemporary design. The Red Dot Design Museum experience promises to not just pique your interest, but to thoroughly engage your senses.
Image by saanjaybhatia under Creative Commons License.
12
Woods in the Books

12) Woods in the Books

Woods in the Books is an indie bookstore filled with none other than picture books! Return to the realms of childhood with well-loved classics such as the Tin Tin comic book series, Shel Silverstein books, and many more delights from the past. Or, browse through an equally fine selection of adult picture books, because Woods in the Books has it all! They also stock pop-up books for their excellent aesthetic value, and exquisite drawings, paintings and toys you can buy home to call your own. With a shop full of picture books ranging from classical to new, there’s no way you’ll be bored with the captivating charm of picture book art.
13
Littered with Books

13) Littered with Books

This quaint two storey bookstore is a great place famous for its artistic vibe and reasonable pricing, not to mention a staggeringly large range of books. Crime fiction, chick-lit, fantasy, cookbooks, children's books, travel guides, and many more, Littered with Books has it all! Whether you have a taste for fiction or nonfiction, the staff at Littered with Books will cordially welcome and assist you in finding your book of choice. A place with peaceful atmosphere as well as simple yet appealing architecture, Littered with Books is the perfect place to rekindle your love for hard copy books, and to appreciate the art of the written word. Like most quirky and charming bookstores, Littered with Books dons a nondescript shop front- coupled with an interior that will delight and impress customers. Every new bookstore is a new experience, and the Littered with Books experience is definitely worth having.
Image by lleb- under Creative Commons License.
14
Artistry Cafe

14) Artistry Cafe

If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon sipping coffee and snacking on cakes- with the added bonus of an artistic ambience, visit the Artistry Cafe, where you will have the luxury of an art gallery cum cafe experience. Centered in the creative arts, Artistry Cafe exhibits paintings by emerging 2D artists and has a stock of locally published books, both fiction and nonfiction selections, which give a cafe a unique touch and make for an interesting browsing experience. Locals and tourists alike flock to this lively cafe not just for its excellent coffee, but to be a part of the rich artistic community Artistry Cafe has gathered around itself. With art adorning its walls and the occasional poetry/music performances, Artistry Cafe has developed a strong appeal to the general public while simultaneously promoting the works of emerging artists, local and international alike.
15
Youth Olympic Park

15) Youth Olympic Park

Standing out from the National parks around Singapore, the Youth Olympic Park is the island’s very first art park, built in commemoration of the Youth Olympic Games hosted by Singapore in August 2010. By conveying the theme of aspirations through various art mediums, including giant sculptures and picture carvings on a rock wall, the park represents a sense of community, as well as promotes the local arts scene. The installations built within the park were specially selected from a local arts competition for those between 8 and 28, and 27 of the competing concept art ideas were made into reality. Many of the facilities and structures in the park have been constructed with artistic flair and finesse, including the benches, hopskotch tiles, etcetera. Ideally situated next to the sea, the Youth Olympic Park is a breezy and photogenic spot for admiring the landscape of Marina Bay and the surrounding area. If you remain at the park for some time, you’ll get to feast your eyes on the amazing visual display of the park between 7pm and 7am, when LED lights flicker on to illuminate the art installations, enhancing the experience. All in all, the Youth Olympic Park has portrayed the Singaporean community in the form of expressive, interactive and enriching art, and has earned well-deserved popularity from both locals and tourists.
Image by William Cho under Creative Commons License.

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


12 Singapore Foods You Should Not Miss

12 Singapore Foods You Should Not Miss

Food is a national passion for Singaporeans. Locals think and talk about food incessantly, often thinking nothing of travelling for miles across the island and queuing for hours just to taste one of their favourite dishes. Singaporeans abroad will bemoan being parted from their favourite foods,...
Traveler's Guide to Singapore: 15 Souvenirs to Bring Home

Traveler's Guide to Singapore: 15 Souvenirs to Bring Home

Known as one of the Four Asian Tigers (or Dragons), Singapore is a thriving metropolis and one of the most fascinating tourist destinations in Asia. Home to multi-ethnic community, the city carefully preserves and proudly exhibits its colorful identity, manifested - among other forms - in the...