About The Arts House

The Arts House occupies the almost 200-year old building which was once home to Singapore’s first parliament. This national monument re-opened as The Arts House in 2004 and is today a vibrant arts centre within the Civic District managed by Arts House Limited (AHL). The venue promotes and presents multidisciplinary programmes with a focus on literary arts as well as festivals within its elegant spaces, playing a key role in supporting our arts sector and bringing communities together through the arts.

Besides managing The Arts House, AHL also presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the Singapore Writers Festival and manages five other arts spaces: Aliwal Arts Centre, Drama Centre, Goodman Arts Centre, Stamford Arts Centre, and Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall.

About Arts in the Civic District

Arts in the Civic District aggregates arts programmes in the Civic District and presents the precinct as a lively and vibrant arts and culture destination in Singapore. It features programmes ranging from museum visits and live performances to arts and culture activities, curated by the Civic District stakeholders: Asian Civilisations Museum, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Symphony Group, The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall. For more information, visit https://artshouselimited.sg/civic-district

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.
The former Parliament House building reopened as The Arts House.