National Gallery Singapore aims to bring art closer to people’s hearts and everyday lives by turning void decks into a gateway to art. The People’s Gallery, which rolls out island-wide today, transforms more than 25 such open spaces into galleries for the public to discover 50 surprising artworks by Singapore and Southeast Asian artists, using QR codes and Augmented Reality (AR) technology. This exciting new outreach initiative is part of the Gallery’s continued push, as it marks its 5th anniversary, to extend the positive impact of art to an even broader range of audiences through approachable and personal experiences with art beyond the walls of the museum.
Void decks are an intrinsic part of everyday Singaporean life. More than 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing, passing through these spaces daily. Leveraging AR technology, the Gallery is able to scale its reach and transform more than 25 Housing Development Boards (HDB) void decks across eight heartland neighbourhoods ̶ Bishan, Toa Payoh, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Serangoon, Pasir Ris, Punggol, and Yishun ̶ into AR art galleries. The use of SafeEntry TraceTogether check-ins has already taught Singaporeans from all walks of lives how easy and convenient it is to use the humble QR code. Each void deck features up to 10 QR codes which will be refreshed with different artworks four times over the three-month run, from 13 September to end-November.
Ms Chong Siak Ching, Chief Executive Officer of National Gallery Singapore, says: “To be a progressive museum for the people, we must continue to create inclusive art experiences to foster a culture of art appreciation among the public. Leveraging technology has allowed us to ‘hang art on walls’ without concerns about climate control and security. We hope that this outreach will allow us to connect more widely with our local communities as we bring art to where they are, to every corner of Singapore.”
Works shown in The People’s Gallery aim to offer the public fresh perspectives on modern Singapore and Southeast Asian art. In addition, the Gallery hopes to have audiences’ interests piqued to discover more surprising works at National Gallery Singapore through these unexpected artworks. The works of art pop up in AR, via an interactive microsite, when the public scan the QR codes on the pillars of designated void decks.
The works are accompanied by written labels, with several pieces complemented by multi-lingual audio guides and Art in 90 seconds videos – personal stories about the artworks told by people of the Gallery. In the spirit of the Gallery’s 5th anniversary theme of bridging divides and finding common ground through art, the AR microsite experience is available in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Thus, regardless of their backgrounds and mother tongues, everyone can come to appreciate and enjoy the value of art for free. Admission to National Gallery Singapore’s permanent exhibitions is also free for all Singaporeans and PRs.
Works of art shown in The People’s Gallery include a bold, abstract figure-painting titled Reclining Nude (undated) by Singapore artist, art educator and art critic Chia Wai Hon; a striking photograph of Samsui women in Two Workers (1968 reprinted in 2017) by Singapore photographer Tan Lip Seng; and a socio-political commentary painting by Filipino multimedia artist, Jose Tence Ruiz, titled The Pro-rated Wage of the Abang Guard (2011).
The public can respond by sharing their thoughts and interpretations of the works on the microsite and read what others have to say. Those who share their views and offer feedback are eligible to redeem a free, one-year Gallery Insider membership worth up to $120 in value, which includes privileges such as unlimited access to exhibitions and discounts for selected programmes, museum merchandise and the Gallery’s culinary offerings.
More information on the works and locations of the galleries available here