Museum and Gallery Guide

NAFA and LASALLE Art Spaces

Events - 09 December 2009 9:13 AM | Updated 09 June 2010

NAFA and LASALLE Art Spaces

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) art galleries

Address:  80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655

Opening hours:Tuesday - Sunday 11am - 7pm. Closed on Monday.

Admission: Free Telephone: 6512-4043

LASALLE College of the Arts art spaces

Address:  1 McNally Street, Singapore 187940

Opening Hours: Daily: 10 – 6pm

Admission: Free

Telephone:  6340-9102


Generations of Singapore artists have been nurtured in two of our leading art institutions, these two being the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and the Lasalle College of the Arts.

Between the two of them, they have produced numerous creative practitioners and artists who have won awards from the nationally awarded Cultural Medallion, represented Singapore at prestigious international art events like the Venice Biennale, design talent recognized by bodies such as the British creative design and advertising charity D&AD and the German design award red dot.

NAFA was the first to open its doors in 1938 with a class of 14 Fine Art students, to embark on a bold artistic journey challenging convention and embracing change. Singapore’s first arts school was set up by Lim Hak Tai, one of Singapore’s pioneering artists at the turn of the 20th century.

Inspiring the Nanyang School of art form, to reflect the 'Nanyang' (South-east Asia) region, both in painting style and subject matter, Lim articulated this notion of a 'Nanyang style' art that comprised of local and South-east Asian tropical representations using Western painting techniques.

Since then, the school has grown from strength to strength and transformed itself into one of Singapore’s pre-eminent, full-fledged arts institution, becoming  a tertiary institution recognized by the Singapore government in April 1999.

To date, NAFA’s galleries have hosted a variety of quality exhibitions, partnering both with international and local arts organisations and artists.

The galleries do not have permanent displays, but instead rotate every few months with new and interesting programmes, including regular exhibitions of key works from the Academy’s art collection by artist luminaries such as Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee, Cheong Soo Pieng, Wee Beng Chong and the school’s founder Lim Hak Tai.

Lasalle College of the Arts was founded in 1984 by Brother Joseph McNally, who was one of Singapore's champions of the creative arts and arts education.

Irish by birth, Singaporean by choice, Brother McNally spent close to 40 years teaching at various schools affiliated to the De La Salle Order, including St Joseph's Institution and St Patrick's Secondary School. It was at St Patrick's where he served as principal for seven years, until he retired in 1982.

Upon retirement, Brother Joseph decided to realise his vision for arts education in Singapore. He was buoyed by the belief that the arts are vital to a person's spiritual life - and therefore, on a wider scale, to a nation, its people and society.

In 1984, McNally set up Lasalle College of the Arts - initially called the St. Patrick's Arts Centre. The college started as a small arts centre with 27 students. As an educator and an artist for most his life, McNally saw this as a good platform to nurture creative excellence.

Today, the college offers a comprehensive range of 26 diploma and degree awards in design, fine arts, film, media arts, fashion, dance, music, theatre, art history, art therapy and arts management in the region.

The college’s new premises, designed by RSP architects, have been inspired by geology, and consist of several exhibition spaces.

Its Praxis Space is a gallery space under the care of the Faculty of Fine Arts, dedicated to showcase exhibitions of new works by its students, staff, alumni and visiting artists, while the Project Space is a gallery space under the care of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

The McNally Gallery located on the ground floor celebrates the artistic achievements of the school’s late founder. McNally was a visionary driven by an optimism to turn anything he touched, however common and apparently simple, into something useful and significant, and his artworks reflect this philosophy.

There are 18 key pieces of his work that are on exhibit, all of which have been carefully selected to showcase the variety and richness of his works from 1974 to 2002.