Photo of The First Print gallery, showing a story scene crafted from paper

The First Print: Stories and Legends of Early Singapore

23 January – 24 March 2019

With many tales such as the strong man Badang and the attack of the garfish, Sejarah Melayu continues to enchant writers and readers everywhere. Discover these timeless stories and how one man managed to bring this ancient manuscript to the masses, thereby ensuring that its legacy live on through the ages.

Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore

20 July 2018 – 24 February 2019

Advertisements are fascinating cultural documents that both shape and reflect people’s desires and ideals. This exhibition features advertising materials from the 1830s to 1960s in the National Library collection, and explores the hopes, dreams, aspirations and insecurities of society over the years.

Tales of the Malay World: Manuscripts and Early Books

18 August 2017 – 25 February 2018

For centuries, Malay was the language of trade, diplomacy, religious discourse, and literature for maritime Southeast Asia. This exhibition explores traditional Malay literature captured in ink on paper – from handwritten manuscripts to early lithographed books.

Shakespeare in Print: The First Folio

11 March 2017 – 23 April 2017

Join us at the National Library as we showcase Shakespeare’s First Folio, first printed in 1623, on special loan from The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries for six weeks only. Shakespeare’s plays are among the most significant pieces of literature in the English language and have influenced art and media all over the world for centuries.

Anatomy of a Free Mind: Tan Swie Hian’s Notebooks and Creations

22 November 2016 – 23 April 2017

1973 was a milestone year in Tan Swie Hian’s life during which he experienced a breakthrough in his spirituality and creative capacity. Now, more than 40 years later, Tan’s works are presented again at the National Library in this exhibition featuring over 100 creations in a wide range of media.

Script & Stage: Theatre in Singapore from the 50s to 80s

28 October 2016 – 26 March 2017

Script & Stage explores the fascinating roots of local playwriting and theatre production, highlighting significant performances, playwrights and prominent theatre companies that have shaped the foundation of contemporary theatre in Singapore.

From the Stacks: Highlights of the National Library

30 January 2016 – 25 September 2016

Documents, publications and photographs from Singapore’s early days reveal fascinating insights into our history and culture. Discover early Singapore from a fresh perspective through over 100 highlights from the National Library’s collection of rare publications, manuscripts, documents, maps, photographs and more.

Poetry on Platforms: Poems on Singapore

16 July 2015 – 13 August 2015

Immerse yourself in 82 Singapore poems written beautifully by poets on the City Hall MRT platforms. Commuters and passer-by can look forward to humorous, moving and thought-provoking poems on life, people, and places in Singapore that will strike a chord with them.

Geo|Graphic: Celebrating maps and their stories

16 January 2015 – 19 July 2015

Maps are fascinating objects; they not only tell us about the places they depict but also how their makers saw the world around them. For Singapore in particular, maps are a window to our early history – before the arrival of the British in 1819. The National Library is pleased to present Geo|Graphic, an offering of exhibitions and programmes that explore maps and mapping.

Singapore Literary Pioneers


The gallery displays the books, letters, calligraphic works, manuscripts, photographs and portraits of Singapore’s literary pioneers. Some prominent writers have also donated their pens, typewriters and literary awards. In addition, visitors can appreciate audio and video recordings of the writers in two multimedia screens.