The former St Joseph’s Church on this site (143 Victoria Street) was blessed and opened in 1853 on this site. However, the congregation continued to grow and although two wings were added in 1868, it was still too small for the growing population. In 1906, the church was demolished and a new one erected over it. The Bishop of Macau, Dom Joao Paolino de Azevedo e Castro, the impetus behind the project, laid the foundation stone on 21 August 1904, and blessed and opened the completed church on 30 June 1912. The costs of building this new church were estimated at S$85,000.



Lee Choon Guan was a Straits-born Chinese businessman and philanthropist. Together with Lim Peng Siang, Lim Boon Keng, and other Chinese merchants, Lee founded the Chinese Commercial Bank in 1912. Lee was also actively involved in public service. He donated generously to public funds, and served as a member in a number of public organisations, including the Straits Chinese British Association, the Chinese Advisory Board, and the management committee of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. On 21 August 1915, Lee, together with Lim Peng Siang, donated a battle plane (Malaya No. 6, also known as the "Choon Guan Peng Siang") in support of the British army in the First World War.



On 21 August 1954, the Singapore Labour Party merged with the Singapore Socialist Party to form the Singapore Labour Front.



The National Museum Art Gallery was officially opened by Mr Jek Yuen Thong, then Minister for Culture on 21 August 1976. The 2440 square metres large Art Gallery was financed by a contribution of $200,000 from the government as well as a donation of $1,148,816 from the Singapore Arts Council.