Since 1984, LASALLE College of the Arts has been collecting contemporary and recent works of art from Singapore and Southeast Asia. Like many universities, LASALLE recognised that museums and collections could play a role in defining civic identity. The first donor, Dr Earl Lu, was a well-known collector, philanthropist and supporter of the College. The Earl Lu Gallery was named in recognition of his donation of artworks in support of teaching and learning at LASALLE. The gallery was renamed the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore in 2004.
The diverse LASALLE Collection reflects the beliefs and interests of the College’s founders and earliest advocates. Today, it represents the dynamics of exchange and collaboration that have characterised LASALLE since its establishment. It includes works of art by artists from outside Asia who have been closely associated with the College, either as teachers or students, administrators or visiting artists. The collection also intersects with the gallery’s programme, especially during the directorship of Binghui Huangfu (1996–2003), when works of art were acquired from exhibitions of Asian contemporary art.
Today, the strength of the collection is Southeast Asian painting, including Chinese ink painting. Highlights include works by Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi, Chua Ek Kay, Goh Beng Kwan, Lim Cheng Hoe, Seah Kim Joo, Tay Bak Koi, Chieu Shuey Fook, Milenko Prvacki, Cai Heng, Ye Shufang, Eric Chan, Ding Yanyong, Gywe U Lun, Sutee Kunichayanont, Pinaree Sanpitak, Manit Sriwanichpoom, Thaweesak Srithongdee, Vincent Paul Padilla, Huang Binhong, Zhang Daqian, Jogen Chowdhury and Sunil Das.
The collection of artefacts, obtained through gift or purchase by LASALLE, includes early ceramic and porcelain ware originating from various historical periods in different parts of Asia. The third major group of works includes sculptures by the founder of LASALLE, Brother Joseph McNally, and outdoor sculptures by artists such as Elsie Yu.