A gallery showcasing the history and heritage of the Istana was officially opened by President Tony Tan Keng Yan on Friday (Oct 7).

Located at Istana Park, opposite the main entrance of the Istana, the gallery tells the story of how the Istana was transformed from a colonial governor's house to the President's official residence. It will also display artefacts and 18 state gifts from countries including Brunei, China and Malaysia, as well as a replica of a signing-in table that is used in state visits.

The state gifts on display includes a bronze bust of an Induna, presented to President Ong Teng Cheong by South African President Nelson Mandela during his 1997 state visit to Singapore; a pair of silver goblets given by Queen Elizabeth II to President S R Nathan in 2006; and a bronze medal presented to President Tony Tan Keng Yam by Pope Francis to mark the 35th anniversary of bilateral relations between Singapore and the Holy See.

"The display of the state gifts is a reflection of the importance which Singapore plays throughout the world," Dr Tan said, adding that the real purpose of the Istana Heritage Gallery was to help evoke a "sense of pride" and "sense of history" in Singaporeans.

The gallery includes interactive features like two iPad stations - one of which carries the digitised version of the Istana guestbook that visitors can flip through.

The gallery is a collaboration between the President's Office, the National Parks Board, the National Heritage Board and the National Library Board. Members of the public can start visiting from Saturday.

Source: Government of Singapore