Contemporary art museum [email protected] in Tanglin Village closes after nine years

SINGAPORE – After nine years in Tanglin Village, the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Loewen Road, also known as [email protected], shut it doors on Monday (Feb 11) for the last time.

Its lease had expired and it was not successful in the latest tender, co-owner Linda Ma told The Straits Times on Tuesday. While the clock has run out on its search for a new space, Ms Ma, 50, said she holds out hope that an opportunity will present itself to open another contemporary arts museum.

According to the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) website, the tender for 27A, 30B and 30C Loewen Road, which sits on a land area of 138,424 sq ft, was awarded to Aurum Land.

Ms Ma said she understands that the space may be turned into a fitness centre and co-working space.

In a statement on Monday, the museum thanked the National Heritage Board and patrons of the arts for their support over the years.

During its time, it had exhibited the artworks of more than 6,000 local and overseas artists, and brought more than 40 art exhibitions to Singapore that featured internationally renowned artists, it said.

The self-funded museum, which offered free admission, was the first museum specialising in contemporary art when it opened in 2008, Ms Ma said.

It stayed afloat over the years through art sales at the museum as well as at galleries Ms Ma runs here and in Beijing and Jakarta.

“Even through very bad situations, we managed to get through,” she said.

When she won the tender to open the museum nine years ago, Ms Ma had been running Linda Gallery up the road in Dempsey. The gallery went online only in 2016.

The museum spanned three buildings, which housed exhibition areas and a cafe, as well as an outdoor sculpture garden.

“It is a very beautiful place and we were so blessed to spend nine years there. Our team is very sad to leave, but we cannot do anything,” said Ms Ma.

After a months-long search for new premises, “we realised that it is very difficult to find such a big space without government support”.

“But if we find a suitable site, we are very happy to run it again,” Ms Ma said.

The museum’s artworks, which number in the hundreds, have been spread across its galleries in Jakarta and Beijing as well as a temporary office in Henderson Road.

“We did a great deal for the arts scene, and it’s sad that within a short while Art Stage and Moca have both disappeared. We’ve had offers to move our museum elsewhere, but we want to continue in Singapore if possible because I still believe that it’s the best place for art in the region,” said Ms Ma.

The SLA announced plans to rejuvenate Tanglin Village last year, with upgrading works to span 40ha across the Dempsey, Loewen and Minden clusters.

Three blocks in Dempsey Road were identified for the first phase of rejuvenation plans and were returned to the SLA last year. They were leased to Como Lifestyle for the expansion of its upmarket dining and retail cluster, with three new concepts including a family club to open this year.

The SLA and Singapore Tourism Board told ST in November that plans to rejuvenate Tanglin Village and improve its infrastructure are being finalised and details will be announced when ready.

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