An Afternoon Visit to the Botanical Art Gallery @ Inverturret House

An Afternoon Visit to the Botanical Art Gallery @ Inverturret House
Visiting the Botanical Art Gallery at Inverturret House, a serene free attraction in a historical manor at the heart of the Botanic Gardens Gallop Extension.

Exploring the Botanical Art Gallery at the heart of the Botanic Gardens Gallop Extension.

I did this afternoon excursion a couple of Wednesdays ago, and it was all because of Google Maps.

What happened was this. In late September, I decided to pop by the Singapore Botanic Gardens after a late lunch at Adam Road Food Centre. As it’s been a while since I last visited, I ended up walking all the way from the Bukit Timah Gate to the Nassim Gate.

That night, as I enthusiastically posted pictures of my hour-long walk to my Google Maps account, I realized …

Eh?! What’s this entire stretch of the Gardens with names like the Botanical Art Gallery, COMO Adventure Grove, and the OCBC Arboretum? Since when did the Botanic Gardens extend that near Farrer Road?

You see, I didn’t know that an extension was added to the Gardens in 2016. (And I call myself a Singaporean blogger …) Of all the times that I’ve visited our UNESCO site since 2016, such as, for the Duke Ellington concert, I’ve also never once ventured anywhere near the new Gallop Extension.

I then did the expected thing. The following week, I visited again and this time, to save myself a mile of walking, I entered using the new Woollerton Gate. This new entrance, about 15 minutes walk from Farrer Road MRT Station.

It was a bit of an adventure and a hike. Not because of the terrain but because you seriously need some sort of a map, like Google’s, to locate the Woollerton Gate.

As for my intended highlight of this visit, i.e., the Botanical Art Gallery, it was a serene and relaxing visiting experience. Made all the more enjoyable by the lovely, beautifully restored hilltop manor that the gallery is housed in.

If you’re into flower and plant art, or if you’re just looking for a free Singaporean attraction that’s different from the usual, I’d strongly recommend that you check out this gallery too. Naturally, the nearby Gallop Extension attractions are worth a look too.


Locating Woollerton Gate

This new entrance, added in 2022, is about a ten-minute walk from Exit A of Farrer Road MRT Station. To be honest, the route isn’t that complicated but there are a few turns, with the bulk of the walk also passing through a private housing estate.

To repeat, if you’re visiting, I strongly suggest that you arm yourself with an access map.

(If you’re driving, you need to locate the Gallop Extension Car Park off Tyersall Avenue. Note that this car park is not accessible from Gallop Road itself!)

Wollerton Park, Singapore
After leaving Farrer Road MRT Station via Exit A, I turned right and walked against the traffic till this sign appeared on my right.
Botanic Gardens Wollerton Gate
Woollerton Gate is at the end of a cul-de-sac. Again, not exactly hard to find if you have a map, but the route isn’t properly marked. It’s also an ungated entrance unlike the other entry points of the Botanic Gardens.
Botanic Gardens Wollerton Gate Path
From Woollerton Gate, a winding path take you uphill till the Bee’s Knee Petite Café comes into view. It’s a gentle and pleasant hike with greenery everywhere.
Inverturret House by R.A.J. Bidwell
View of the hilltop Inverturret House, marked as “House 7” on the official map of the Botanic Gardens. Designed by English architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell, it’s one of two visually distinctive English “black and white” manors at Gallop Road.

If you’re interested, check out these write-ups about the two historical manors, considered amongst the finest late 19th-century homes in Singapore. Bidwell himself was also involved with the design of Singaporean landmarks like Raffles Hotel, Stamford House, and Goodwood Park Hotel.

Nature Art at the Botanical Art Gallery

A temporary exhibition titled Flower Obsession: Plant Collecting in East Asia, 1600s–1900s was ongoing at level 1 of the Gallery when I visited. This exhibition has, unfortunately … ended on October 24, 2022, but the Gallery has permanent exhibits on the upper level.

Outside of the artwork, the beautifully refurbished interior of Inverturret House is a joy to explore, especially when there’s no crowd. The tranquil views from the verandas are therapeutic.

Flower Culture at Botanical Art Gallery
Flower Obsession was divided into two sections. The Flower Culture section/room featured historical Japanese flower illustrations from the late 1600s to the early 1900s.
Japanese Flower Art @ Botanical Art Gallery
Chrysanthemums. Aren’t the illustrations so exquisite and detailed, and well-preserved? So utterly oriental at a glance too?
Traditional Japanese Flower Art
Such amazing details. Such immaculate application of colour and gradient too.
Plant Obsession Exhibit @ Botanical Art Gallery
The Plant Obsession section focused on plants, with informative write-ups on plant exhibitions and competitions in 19th-century Japan.
Plant Obsession | Botanical Art Gallery
There’s a certain Ukiyo feel to the illustrations, don’t you think so?
Historical Japanese Plant Illustrations
These black and white ones, on the other hand, are manga in feel?
Botanical Art Gallery Permanent Exhibit
As mentioned, the upper level is home to the permanent collection. The drawings and illustrations here are no less detailed than the Japanese ones but are also distinctively different in feel and approach.
Free Attraction in Singapore: Botanical Art Gallery
Like many other museums and galleries of Singapore, the permanent collection is tastefully presented with concisely written introductions. It is also free to enter.
I think art students will find a treasure trove of references and inspirations here. There’s also a video presentation.
Plant Illustrations at Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The native plants of Singapore: Orchids and … pitcher plants. I used to be deathly scared of the latter as a kid. (I keep imagining myself as a fly trapped in one!)
Inverturret House, Singapore
Bidwell’s famous manor is also beautiful in a European country home way; surely a delight for architecture fans. According to displays, Inverturret is also notable for its internal layout. It appears symmetrical on the outside but the rooms on the ground floor are arranged along a diagonal route, instead of a central axis.
Botanic Art Gallery Inverturret House
The architecture is such a harmonious blend of the East and West, don’t you think so?

Other Attractions of the Gallop Extension

From Inverturret House, various routes take you to the other attractions of the Gallop Extension.

Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum
Atbara House, (House 5 on the official map), is just steps away from Inverturret. It’s also a Bidwell creation and is currently home to the Forest Discovery Centre. The Centre was unfortunately closed when I visited.
Como Adventure Grove
The adventurous playground of the Como Adventure Grove. A long staircase near the Botanical Art Gallery descends to the Grove and from the top, I could already hear the squealing of kids. (That’s NOT a durian, BTW, it’s a cempedak i.e. jackfruit)
OCBC Arboretum
The OCBC Arboretum has many winding and circuitous paths! Like what I tend to do in the Far Cry games, I kept going in circles before locating the way out!
Mingxin Foundation Rambler's Ridge
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge has a bridge that connects with the older parts of the Botanic Gardens. However, it was partly closed when I visited. I ended up having to walk through the entire Tyersall Gate car park before reentering the Gardens near the Orchid Plaza.

The Botanical Art Gallery is open everything except the last Thursday of the month from 9 am to 6 pm. Entry is free for all. Check the official calendar of events for ongoing exhibitions.

Read my other Home Tourist photo essays.

An Afternoon Visit to the Botanical Art Gallery @ Inverturret House
Article Name
An Afternoon Visit to the Botanical Art Gallery @ Inverturret House
Visiting the Botanical Art Gallery at Inverturret House, a serene free attraction in a historical manor at the heart of the Botanic Gardens Gallop Extension.

Thanks for commenting!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.