Travellers looking to find some arts and culture in Singapore should head down to the Bugis and Bras Basah area in Singapore, home to some of Singapore’s more prominent museums and cultural institutions. And if you know where to look, you’ll find some pretty cool murals along the streets as well. Here’s my guide on where to find street art in the Bugis-Bras Basah precinct in Singapore.
If your taste runs to quirkier types of museums, check out some of my favourite small niche museums in Singapore.
Around the Singapore Art Museum
The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is Singapore’s first art museum and home to contemporary art, often hosting exhibitions featuring Singaporean artists and those around the region. You can often find some rather odd and eye-catching displays on its front lawn facing Bras Basah Road – I’ve seen everything from a giant inflatable bunny to an over-sized desk. It has an annexe building known as 8Q which usually features more video works.
The Singapore Art Museum is currently undergoing some major renovation and will only be open in a few years time.
Bencoolen Street – NAFA Campus 1
This wall was a bit of a surprise for me to stumble upon when I was searching for the theatre at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). It’s located just behind the Objectifs Gallery and popular restaurant Artichoke in a narrow alleyway.
The first time I found this wall, it seems more like an organic space for expression but unfortunately at some point, the graffiti was painted over.
Queen Street – Waterloo Street
Just a short walk away from SAM is a small road between 222 Queen Street and Hotel Oxford that connects the parallel Queen Street and Waterloo Street.
This wall was supposed to change occasionally with various mega collaborative works courtesy of RSCLS and various artists from around the region in their Solidarity 21 Project – I saw a previous iteration which involved all female artists from Singapore and around Asia. This particular one is a mash-up of Singaporean and Thai street artists from Bangkok and it hasn’t changed in quite a while.
Check out nearby Waterloo Centre as well for some random murals on its pillars.
Bain Street – Bras Basah Complex
Right next to the National Library which occasionally houses some pretty cool exhibitions, Bras Basah Complex is an older shopping centre where most people head to for cheaper and quick printing options. Among its more popular tenants are Art Friend for all your DIY art supplies, the largest Popular Bookstore outlet for all your stationery needs, as well as Basheer Graphic Books which carries design and visual arts publications.
This particular artwork “Rainbows” is part of a larger street art campaign called 50 Bridges, an initiative by the Australian Commission of Singapore in celebration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence which has 50 pieces of street artworks all across the island. Singaporean street artist Sheryo and Aussie partner Yok created a series of rather distinctively colourful artwork, and Bras Basah Complex was one of the locations.
Seah Street – Hotel Naumi
Continue heading down towards Nicoll Highway to find this funky piece on the side of boutique hotel Naumi created by home-grown street artist Trase One – the alleyway that the artwork faces connects Seah Street and Purvis Street and is often the site of illegal parking, so this piece is a pretty good reminder to exercise caution while parking in that area!
To get your art kicks here, check out the rather unusual private toy museum aka Mint Museum of Toys along that same stretch of Seah Street, or head on over to Raffles Hotel
Around the National Museum of Singapore
Sitting on the hills of Fort Canning, the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) has some fun permanent galleries that offer an interactive and immersive experience of Singapore’s history, so it’s definitely worth a visit if you want to learn more about Singapore in a nutshell.
This area is pretty historical overall, but of note for the arts and culture vultures is Armenian Street where you can find a bunch of street artworks mixed in with some prominent arts and heritage sites:
This low wall along the carpark is right next to the Peranakan Museum and emblazoned with a rainbow coloured artwork depicting the cultural flavour of the Bugis-Bras Basah district. It seems a little Invader inspired, with little mosaic pieces depicting famous buildings in the area
*Thanks C for letting me know that this piece was commissioned by the National Heritage Board in celebration of their 20th Anniversary!
The Substation is an independent arts enclave and occasionally has some pretty avant-garde performances or exhibitions on show. Naturally, its walls are also home to various interesting artworks, and if you need a break after all that walking, check out the original Timbre outlet at the back – just follow the sound of live music by Singaporean musicians!
No Longer There
Here’s a look at some older artworks that were painted over.
Looking for more street art in Singapore? Read a little about the evolution of street art in Singapore or check out my other street art hunting posts for Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Little India. I also run @singaporestreetart on Instagram and have many other street art guides to other cities in the world.