The Botanical Art Gallery is housed within Singapore Botanic Gardens' second refurbished conserved building, Gallop House No. 7 (Inverturret), which was built in 1906. The gallery highlights the vital role that art plays in the scientific documentation of plants in Singapore and the region, as well as how art can inspire renewed appreciation of the natural world around us. This will be Singapore’s first permanent display of botanical art, where visitors will be able to see a selection of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ collection that includes more than 2,000 botanical paintings, as well as hundreds of sketches, line drawings and photographs. The display will also showcase various art forms, from original watercolours and ink drawings to prints and printing blocks.
Some of the iconic artwork on display includes the oldest dated painting in the Gardens’ collection completed in 1890, of Phaius tankervilleae, an orchid which grows in freshwater swamp forests, as well as an illustration of Durio singaporensis, which is commonly known as the Singapore Durian.
Visitors will also be able to try their hand at the various techniques involved in botanical illustration, such as sketching, mixing colours, and composing scenes. The activity room also offers sweeping views of the forested areas surrounding the house.
The Botanical Art Gallery will also feature changing exhibitions that complement the Gardens’ permanent artwork collection. The first show, ‘Plants in Print’, will showcase a collection of rare books that records the development of early colonial botany in South and Southeast Asia. Local artists such as Shubigi Rao and Weixin Chong have also been commissioned to offer creative responses to these books and produce a series of contemporary artworks.
Gallop House No. 5 (Atbara) is Singapore’s oldest surviving colonial era or black-and-white bungalow. Built in 1898, it now houses the Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum, which showcases Singapore’s forest ecosystems, and highlights the importance of conserving them. Through a series of interpretive and interactive displays, visitors can enjoy a bird's eye view of Singapore’s diverse forests, and learn about the Gardens’ historical role in conserving them. Highlights include a photographic installation of forest trees, family-friendly displays and videos featuring three distinctive forest habitats found in Singapore, and their unique flora and fauna.
The Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum will also host the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Tropical Forest Ecology Research programme. This programme reprises a historical role for the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which dates back to the late 1800s. One of the Gardens’ early superintendents, Nathaniel Cantley, was tasked to survey the forests in the Straits Settlement in 1882. His report led to the demarcation of the first forest reserves in Singapore in 1884, in order to prevent the ecology and climate from further deteriorating.
Complementing the Forest Discovery Centre is the OCBC Arboretum, which is a first-of-its-kind high-tech arboretum in Southeast Asia. Opened in October 2019, the arboretum plays an important role in the Gardens’ conservation work, housing and displaying the Gardens’ growing collection of rare dipterocarps.
Fort Canning Park is an iconic hilltop landmark has witnessed many of Singapore’s historical milestones. The hill once sited the palaces of 14th century Kings and served as the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks. The decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 was also made on the hill, in the Underground Far East Command Centre, commonly known as Battle Box.
Today, Fort Canning Park features nine historical gardens - the Pancur Larangan, Artisan’s Garden, Sang Nila Utama Garden, Jubilee Park (Phase 1), Raffles Garden, First Botanic Garden, Farquhar Garden, Spice Garden and Armenian Street Park.
Accompanying these gardens are wayfinding and trail guides which will allow visitors to plan their own trail and explore the hill at their own pace. Visitors can also download the augmented reality trail, BALIKSG: The Fort Canning Trail. The app will bring park visitors on an interactive journey through Fort Canning Park, revisiting the hill back when it was known as Bukit Larangan or Government Hill. The total length of the trail is about 2.5km, with eight checkpoints placed throughout the park including the various gardens. Visitors can look out for the AR marker in the park and start the app at any point.
To get to Fort Canning Park, visitors can make use of the covered escalators from Fort Canning MRT station and Bras Basah MRT station to the top of Fort Canning Park.
Fort Canning Park is a venue for celebrations. Its expansive, sprawling lawns play host to concerts, theatre productions and festivals such as Shakespeare in the Park, Ballet Under the Stars, Shakespeare in the Park and Films at the Fort, while weddings, parties and gatherings are a regular sight in the park's venue spaces. Its ancient artefacts are a must-see for history buffs, and its lush greenery and expansive lawns offer a variety of arts, heritage and nature experiences. Whether you are drawn by the park’s ancient artefacts and rich heritage or simply its tranquility, this hilltop park offers something for the whole family.
View here for the map of Fort Canning Park. Click here to read more about the enhanced Fort Canning Park.