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!)
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.
- A Journey Through Time – The Gallop Extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Learning Forest
- The Bidwell houses at Gallop Road
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.
Other Attractions of the Gallop Extension
From Inverturret House, various routes take you to the other attractions of the Gallop Extension.
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.