The Istana 150 Commemorative Event
President Halimah and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee hosted close to 2,000 visitors at the Istana 150 Commemorative Event on Sunday, 6 October 2019. Visitors to the Istana 150 Commemorative Event were treated to a scintilalting lightshow projected on the Istana Main Building facade, as well as a series of live performances by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and other local talents such as Chloe Chua, 53A, Clement Chow, Rahimah Rahim, Tay Kewei and Nick Zavior, MICappella and CAMOKAKIS.
“Istana 150 will be a useful opportunity for us to reflect on our history as a nation and the values that have guided us so far. The Istana has journeyed with Singaporeans over the past 150 years, becoming a key part of our collective memories and identity. It is important that we see this commemoration as an occasion to dig deep into our heritage as one people, because how we have arrived at where we are today will shape who we will be tomorrow.
I also look forward to involving VWOs and persons with disabilities in the upcoming commemorative activities. Many of them, despite their disabilities, have great talents. I hope that Istana 150 can also be a platform for them to showcase their passions, whether it is in artworks to be featured in our Istana books or a performance at our Istana Open House,” President Halimah Yacob.
Who we are will shape who we will become in future. The “Istana 150” commemoration will look at how Istana has been a part of the Singapore story and dig deep into our heritage and history. A series of souvenirs, books and events will be launched throughout 2019. All proceeds from these projects will be donated to charity through the President’s Challenge.
Faces of the Istana is a three-part web video series which features the people of Istana. The video series is produced in collaboration with The Straits Times, as part of Istana 150 commemoration.
Having worked in the President's Office for over two decades, Chief Butler, Francis Ho has served numerous local guests and foreign dignitaries in the course of his work. Francis is proud to be working at the Istana. Watch Francis and his team as they go about getting the Istana ready for events such as Istana Open Houses!
Assistant Curator, Poh Joo Nam and Hamid Sudi, are part of the NParks team that maintain the greenery at the Istana. Watch Joo Nam and Hamid share about their affection tending to the Istana’s sprawling greenery.
Affectionately known as “Uncle Hoon” to everyone in Istana, he has been a chef at the Istana for over 55 years, and has served all the Singapore’s Presidents and Prime Ministers, since our nation’s independence. Watch Uncle Hoon sharing about his day at work, and reflecting on the countless guests and foreign dignitaries he has served.
President Halimah Yacob launched four updated editions of the Istana books during the Deepavali Istana Open House (IOH) on Sunday, 27 October 2019.
Four updated editions of the Istana books (viz. The Istana, Gardens of the Istana, Birds Seen in the Istana, and Trees of the Istana), which were first commissioned by the late former President SR Nathan, were also released at the Open House. The books contain vivid illustrations of the history, architecture, nature and grounds of the Istana, as well as interesting stories of personalities who were part of the Istana’s 150-year journey.
President Halimah Yacob launched a new multimedia interactive site during the Deepavali Istana Open House (IOH) on Sunday, 27 October 2019.
A collaboration with Singapore Press Holdings, the multimedia interactive site offers users an immersive experience of touring the building and grounds of Istana through augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree virtual tours. Through the multimedia site, viewers can get a glimpse of the lesser known areas in the Istana which are out of bounds, such as the well and bunker that have a wealth of history.
As the finale of a year-long commemoration of the Istana 150th anniversary, the Istana grounds were opened to members of public for the first time at night on 6 October 2019.
One of the highlights of the evening was a scintillating lightshow projected on the Istana Main Building facade, depicting the history and heritage of the Istana over the years. The event also featured a series of live performances by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and other home grown talents such as 53A, Clement Chow, Rahimah Rahim, MICappella and CAMOKAKIS.
In commemoration of the Istana’s 150th anniversary, President Halimah Yacob launched a series of children's books, titled “Istana Open House Adventures”, at Greenwood Primary School on 3 October 2019. This is the first time the President's Office has commissioned children's books. The three books present interesting facts and important past events in the form of stories that resonate with young readers.
President Halimah Yacob launched the second issue of the Istana Souvenir Series during the National Day Istana Open House, which features four unique medallions depicting the rich flora and fauna diversity within the Istana.
In commemoration of the Istana’s 150th anniversary, President Halimah Yacob launched a new series of books, titled “150 Best Kept Secrets of the Istana”, during the National Day Istana Open House on Sunday, 28 July 2019. Specially commissioned by the President’s Office for the commemoration, each of the three books in the series contains 50 little-known facts of the Istana and introduces readers to some of the inner-workings behind state events in the Istana.
The three books can be read singly, or as a whole series.
The first book focuses on history and heritage – it looks back to the time when Istana was still known as Government House, and follows its development from the colonial days, to WWII, to Singapore’s independence.
The second book offers a glimpse of not only the dignitaries who have visited the Istana, but also the unsung heroes who work here—the gardeners, kitchen staff, butlers and more. It also showcases the landmarks and buildings in the Istana.
The third book explores the various flora and fauna that can be found within the Istana’s grounds as well as the conservation programmes which have been carried out in the Istana
President Halimah Yacob launched the Istana 150 Cookies at APSN Katong School during the Youth Day Celebrations. The Istana Cookies are a collaboration between the President’s Office and Pine Gardens, with the ingredients derived from spices and fruits found in Istana grounds. Flavours include Berlinjau Lime, Lime Sugee, Golden Spice, Nutmeg Medley, and Rosemary Delight. The Istana Cookies will be available at the Istana Open Houses.
The Istana 150 is a platform to showcase the talents and passions of our special needs community. President’s Office and Pine Gardens have partnered with APSN Katong School to feature their artwork designs for the packaging of the Istana Cookies. Their designs are also made into badges that comes with each packet of Istana Cookies. The designs are also inspired by the rich flora and fauna of the Istana grounds.
In commemoration of Istana 150th anniversary, President Halimah Yacob launched a multi-sensory exhibition titled "Our Istana: A Living Museum" at the Tampines Regional Library at Tampines Hub on Saturday, 1 June 2019. A collaboration between the President’s Office, the National Heritage Board, the National Library Board, NParks and Singapore Pools, the exhibition aims to make the history and heritage of the Istana more accessible to the public through stories, images, objects, videos and hands-on exhibits.
Visitors can discover the team behind the Istana, and get a glimpse of its beautiful rooms at the exhibition. Objects rarely seen in public, including Presidential tableware, stationery of President Halimah Yacob, recipes and uniforms of staff, are on display. There is also a fun, interactive section where families with children can explore the rich flora and fauna of the Istana.
The roving exhibition will be held at different public libraries in Singapore over the next six months. Admission to the exhibition is free.
Refer to table below for the schedule of the roving exhibition.
|1 June – 30 June 2019
(accessible from 4.00 p.m. on 1 June)
|Tampines Regional Library||Saturday, 1 June
3.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
|2 July – 30 July 2019||Central Public Library||
Sunday, 7 July2.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
|1 August – 1 September 2019||Bedok Public Library||Saturday, 3 August
2.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
|3 September – 29 September 2019||Jurong Regional Library||Saturday, 7 September
12.30 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.
|1 October – 30 October 2019||Woodlands Regional Library||Saturday, 5 October
2.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
|1 November – 1 December 2019||Library @ Harbourfront||Saturday, 2 November
11.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.
In commemoration of The Istana 150th anniversary, President Halimah Yacob launched a model of the Istana created with LEGO bricks by a LEGO Certified Professional, during the Labour Day Istana Open House. Specially commissioned by the President’s Office for the occasion, the model encapsulates the Istana’s Neo-Palladian architecture with its surrounding verandas and Istana grounds. The limited edition models were available to visitors who made a minimum donation of $70 to the President’s Challenge.
President Halimah said, “I was happy to launch the Istana 150 commemorative model of the Istana building this morning. The Istana is an iconic landmark in Singapore, having been an important part of our history and national identity. I hope Singaporeans will appreciate this special and unique keepsake, and through it, look back to our journey together as a nation with pride.”
In commemoration of the Istana turns 150 this year, President Halimah Yacob launched an Istana Souvenir Series of Medallions and Flashpay cards at the Chinese New Year Istana Open House.
A collaboration between the President’s Office and the Singapore Mint, the Istana Souvenir Series consists of five unique medallion designs featuring the architecture of the buildings within the Istana compounds and significant highlights of the Istana. The designs of the series create a unique opportunity for Singaporeans to know more about the history and heritage of the Istana. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the Istana Souvenir Series will be donated to the President’s Challenge.
Speaking to the media after the launch of the Istana Souvenir Series, President Halimah said, “I am glad to have launched the Istana 150 Souvenir Series of Medallions and Flashpay cards. Through the medallions and card products, Singaporeans can bring a piece of their memories of the Istana back home with them. Their designs also tell interesting stories about the customs and traditions within the Istana, some of which are not commonly known before this.”.
The Istana 150 Logo Competition was launched by President Halimah at the National Day Istana Open House in July 2018. Over a 2-month period, the competition received about 100 entries. A panel of judges reviewed the entries and made recommendations to the President on the selected entry.
The winning entry (as appended) was submitted by Charlie Chua, a SOTA student. The Istana 150 logo will be used on the Istana 150 memorabilia in 2019.
A logo is vital to establishing and reinforcing the identity of any building. It is not just a design, but also an icon. This is especially so for a building as historically and culturally significant as the Istana. Geometric fragments were used to design the logo to allude to the Istana's exterior architecture. The design highlights the Istana Building Neo-Palladian style, with emphasis on the building’s archways and pediments.
Do you know that the Istana used to be a nutmeg plantation in the early years? It has since become an iconic national monument. Today, it is a place where foreign dignitaries are hosted and where outstanding Singaporeans are honoured. The Istana is also well loved and visited by Singaporeans during the Istana Open Houses.
As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Istana next year, we would like to invite Singaporeans to share your memories of the Istana. We look forward to hearing your stories and receiving your photographs via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The President is responsible for safeguarding the national reserves and the integrity of the public service. The President also receives foreign dignitaries, officiates at state functions and performs other ceremonial and community duties.
Besides official functions, the President actively supports community and social causes. The President often graces events organised by grassroots, community and welfare groups, as well as ethnic and religious organisations.
The portraits of President Halimah and her spouse, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, are displayed in public buildings. The Presidential Standard is flown at the Istana in the day, when the President is in the country. The Presidential Crest is used on state crockery, gifts and stationery related to the President.