Overview

About The Arts House


Occupying the almost 200-year-old building that was home to Singapore’s first parliament, The Arts House continues in the distinguished tradition of this gazetted national monument and now plays a key role as the national literary arts centre in the country's arts and creative scene. The Arts House at the Old Parliament, as it is affectionately referred to, promotes and presents multidisciplinary programmes and festivals within its elegant spaces. It focuses in particular on the promotion of literary arts and culture, celebrating the works of written and spoken word artists from Singapore and beyond.

The Arts House is run and managed by Arts House Limited (AHL). AHL also presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, and manages Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert HallDrama CentreGoodman Arts Centre, Aliwal Arts Centre and Stamford Arts Centre.   

Our Story

Site of the building was occupied by the temenggong of Johor and his followers
Irish architect George Coleman designed and built a neo-Palladian residence for Scottish merchant John Argyle Maxwell. Upon completion, Maxwell leased it out to the government for use as a Court House.
A single-story building was constructed next to the main building to serve the new courthouse (Annex Building today). Later, an extension was built to accommodate the recorder, the jurors and the prisoners.
Court House relocated to a new building, the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The main building was retained as the Council Chambers and the annex as the Post Office.
Main building extended towards the Singapore River and eventually used as the Supreme Court.
After major reconstruction to both buildings, the original Neo-Palladian style was diluted with compositions of late Victorian styles. A third storey was added over the front porch, and the Annex later served as a District Court.
Supreme Court moved to a new building and the site remained as a government storehouse.
At the end of the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II, Maxwell’s building was used by the newly-created Department of Social Welfare and other government departments as a storehouse.
Officially declared as the Assembly House on 9 July.
The building was renamed the Parliament House when Singapore gained independence.
Parliament House moved to a new building on North Bridge Road.
Parliament House reopened as The Arts House.