Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Heritage Community Series | Ancestral Worship Practices of the Babas


Altar and Offerings in the Chan Residence
Singapore, C. 2013
Photo courtesy of Chan Eng Thai
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Date: 15 October 2014, Wednesday 
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email babahouse@nus.edu.sg
FULLY SUBSCRIBED.

Join us for a talk by Baba Chan Eng Thai and discover the ancestral worship practices in Peranakan households. Baba Eng Thai will discuss about the basis of ancestral worship and highlight some of the rituals observed by families. 

Ancestral worship is an ancient practice that dates to before 100BC and reinforces the unity of the family system in traditional Chinese society. It seeks to honour the deeds, sacrifices and memories of the deceased. Many believe that the soul of the deceased lives on and they take an active interest in the lives of living family members. As such, prayers and offerings are made before the tablets in homes, temples and graves.

About the speaker

Chan Eng Thai is a lawyer and graduated with a LL.B Honours (London) Barrister-at-Law, Middle Temple from the University of London in 1985. He is descended from two Peranakan families and is passionate about pantun writing. Eng Thai has been in the main committee of The Peranakan Association of Singapore (TPA) for 10 years and currently serves as the Second Vice President. Proud of his Baba roots, he shares his knowledge on the cultural heritage of the Peranakans through talks given at the Peranakan Museum and Friends of the Museums (FOM).

About the Heritage Community Series
Encouraged by the growing community of Singaporeans actively committed to exploring history and raising cultural awareness, the Heritage Community Series is introduced as a platform where independent researchers, heritage enthusiasts and collectors share their encounters, perspectives and experiences. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Curatorial Roundtable 03 | A Moveable Feast: Itinerancy and Curatorial Practice


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Date: 9 October 2014, Thursday  
Time: 7.00 - 9.00pm
Venue:
Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Free admission with registration.
To register, please email museum@nus.edu.sg or call 6516 8817.

Moderator:
Ahmad Mashadi (NUS Museum)

Speakers:

Vera Mey (Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore)
Farah Wardani (Indonesian Visual Art Archive)

The establishment of international curatorial networks follows the growing proliferation of curatorial residencies around the world. For some, this has helped encourage horizontal movements across the so-called global south by curators in their practice and research. This session aims to explore the issues and potentials of itinerancy in curatorial practice from the perspective of curators based around the region.

About the Curatorial Roundtable Series
Presented in conjunction with Curating Lab 2014, the Curatorial Roundtable public talk series gathers together curators and artists working across different fields of research and engagement, to discuss the boundaries of curatorial practice. Amidst the increasing attention paid to the role of the curator, this series aims to probe further into the limits of curatorial practice. Although presented primarily for the participants of Curating Lab 2014, the Curatorial Roundtable is an opportunity to bridge the gap between the curator and the audience, providing opportunities for interaction and stimulating discussions on curatorial practices and processes.

For more: curating-lab.blogspot.com

Event photos





Event video

Curatorial Roundtable 03 | A Moveable Feast: Itinerancy and Curatorial Practice from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Rie Ong

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Working alongside their mentors, our interns have waded through tons of historical research, assisted in curatorial work, pitched in during exhibition installations and organised outreach events! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

For Summer 2014, we have 6 undergraduate interns working with the curatorial and outreach teams, conducting research into the Museum's collections as we prepare for our upcoming Resource Gallery, the new T.K. Sabapathy Collection of books and artworks, the archaeological sherd collection housed in the Sherd Library as well as conceptualising and running Outreach events at the Baba House and the NUS Museum.

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Rie Ong is a third-year undergraduate at the School of Humanities & Social Science at Nanyang Technological University. Rie joined the Curatorial team as our Archaeological Sherds Research Intern, assisting in documenting the materials in the Museum's Sherd Library and conducting research for new displays of the sherd collection.

For the last fourteen weeks, I was the Archaeology Sherds Research Intern at the NUS Museum. In general, my internship at the NUS Museum has been at times rigorous, but all in all, fulfilling.

As part of my internship, I had to achieve several objectives. First, I was required to conduct research for the refresh of the Sherd Library display. Through my research, I became increasingly intrigued by the fact that Singapore had a rich history way before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. I also learnt that Singapore had an extensive network with various polities of the region during the 14th century, and this does mirror what we know of Singapore today as a bustling trading hub for the region and the world. 


Second, I had to catalogue the archaeological sherds that were in the existing Sherd Library. This was not an easy task as there was no existing system of cataloguing for the Sherd Library. This certainly put my ceramic identification skills to the test, as I had to identify the ceramics based on the features that I have observed behind the glass screens, as opposed to identifying it close up. Moreover, there were many types of sherds from various parts of the region and of different time periods, which made the identification of ceramics even more challenging.  

Third, I had to prepare for the deinstallation of the current Sherd Library as well as the installation of a temporary exhibition, the Archaeology Library: prep room, that would serve as a preview to the new Sherd Library to be installed at the end of this year.

As easy as this might sound, the process of curating an exhibition involves many steps and procedures. What I found most interesting about the whole process of learning how to curate an exhibition, is the idea that the curator often takes on many roles in the course of preparing for an exhibition. The curator is:

  • A researcher- one that gathers the information behind the artifacts in an exhibition
  • An archivist- one that manages and organises a collection of objects and documents of the past
  • An architect- one that utilises space to construct something
  • A storyteller- one that narrates a story
  • A handyman- one that does the odd jobs such as taking measurements and moving heavy objects.



After going through the preparation behind taking down and putting up the exhibition, I also had the privilege of seeing it come to fruition. First, we had to pack the artefacts from the existing Sherd Kibrary into crates. The detailed process of packing is illustrated below:


After the packing was completed, the artifacts were moved up to the VEG, which is the location for the temporary installation. As there were many pieces to choose from and a limited space to display them, certain artefacts were selected based on site. I ensured that there was at least one sample of the wares that characterised each site chosen in each display. Su Ling explained that the wares selected did not necessarily have to be the most beautiful pieces of each site- it was more important to ensure that there were variations in the types of pieces selected. After the pieces were selected, they had to be rearranged on their designated pedestals.


Besides being involved in the above, I also had the opportunity to learn more about
museums in general through various activities that were organised for the interns. This included curatorial tours of the Baba House as well as a former exhibition Inherited and Salvaged: Family Portraits from the Straits Chinese Collection. Through these tours, I was able to gain a greater understanding of the curatorial direction behind the exhibitions, as well as the historical background behind them. I also attended a Conservation Workshop, which taught me more about how art works are restored and preserved. This was certainly an eye-opening experience for me.


Though my journey at the NUS Museum has come to an end, the memories of the people that I have met and the lessons that  I have learnt still remain.  My colleagues and my fellow interns have been instrumental in helping me to adjust to life in NUS - from showing me the best food in canteens around campus, and getting round from place to place on the Shuttle Bus. They have also been a great source of support and companionship throughout this journey and I am thankful for their camaraderie. I would also like to thank Dr John Miksic and Dr Goh Geok Yian for teaching me about Archaeology in Singapore and also for answering the queries that I had about ceramics.

Last but not the least, I am also grateful for my supervisor, Su Ling, who has taught me a great deal about curating exhibitions as well as widening my knowledge about ceramics. She has done an immense job in doing so, and has been an inspiration to me as an aspiring curator. 




Friday, 19 September 2014

Heritage Community Series | De-mystifying Chinese Portraits: Style, Structure and Status


Lim Kim Swee, Ancestor Portrait of Wee Boon Teck, 1899, Singapore
Gouache, Watercolour and Gold Leaf on Paper, 114.5 x 83.5 cm
Gift of Wee Lin
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Date: 3 October 2014, Friday
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email babahouse@nus.edu.sg

The practise of portraiture and likenesses in portraiture has a long tradition stretching back to Chinese artwork in tomb murals, dating to the Warring States period. The development of portraiture had been relatively late as classical Chinese paintings featuring calligraphy or themes of landscapes, flowers and birds were highly sought after. These were considered to have a high level of stylisation, mystical appeal, and surreal elegance. 

In the Song dynasty, portrait painting became more standard and sophisticated. It further evolved after missionary Matteo Ricci’s visit to China in 1572 during which, he shared his knowledge on the European way of painting with Chinese artists. Chinese style of painting now incorporated Western techniques such as lighting and shading. 

Join speakers Pauline Ong to trace the history of portraiture in Chinese Art and compares it to the style of painting by the European masters. Whereas, Clara Chan continues with sharing about the portraits and photographs displayed at the Baba House.

About the speakers

Pauline Ong, a native of Shanghai, grew up in Singapore and has lived there since 1953. Even though she graduated as a pharmacist, she was always curious and keen to learn more about her Chinese roots, its arts and history, as well as the cultures of Southeast Asia. Thus in 1998, Pauline joined the Friends of the Museums (FOM) and studied to be Docent (Volunteer Guide) at the Singapore Art, Asian Civilisations, Peranakan and National Museums. She is now training to be a Docent at the Indian Heritage Centre (opening mid 2015). 

Clara Chan graduated from the University of London in 2007 with a BA in Law and was working in the banking industry before her retirement. In 2010, she trained to become a docent as she was keen to discover more about different cultures and their traditions. She currently guides at the NUS Baba House, National Museum of Singapore and the Malay Heritage Centre where she also assists to co-ordinate the Friends of the Museums (FOM) docent training.

About the Heritage Community Series
Encouraged by the growing community of Singaporeans actively committed to exploring history and raising cultural awareness, the Heritage Community Series is introduced as a platform where independent researchers, heritage enthusiasts and collectors share their encounters, perspectives and experiences. 

Look out for our upcoming talks in the Heritage Community Series
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - A Heavenly Offering

Monday, 15 September 2014

Closure | 15 - 22 September 2014

To facilitate renovation works for a new Resource Gallery that will open in January 2015, the NUS Museum will be closed for a week from 15 – 22 September 2014. We will re-open with our usual operation hours on Tuesday, 23 September 2014. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Our opening hours are:
Tuesdays - Fridays: 10am - 7.30pm
Weekends: 10am - 6pm
Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays.

Do check out our on-going programmes at http://community.nus.edu.sg/cfa/museum/current-events.php

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Exhibition | Archaeology Library: prep-room

[Gallery impression, 'Archaeology Library: prep-room' | NUS Museum, 2014]

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Date: Sep 2014 - 16 Nov 2014
Venue: 
NUS Museum 


The prep-room is a space where curatorial and research processes are encountered in its evolving form. This temporary display is set up to explore ideas and themes for the upcoming refresh of the archival square situated within the Lee Kong Chian gallery at the Lobby level. The archival square will host the Archaeology Library, which will bring together finds from many parts of Southeast Asia and China. Collected by Dr John N Miksic since 1977, the items on loan to the Museum will attempt to provide an idea of the vast range of pottery and other materials discovered at archaeological sites from Fort Canning (Singapore) to Changsha (China). 
 
The Archaeology Library is available for research and teaching purposes, and invites visitors to explore the history of Singapore and its connections with the region and beyond.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Heritage Community Series | Decorative Art Nouveau Tiles: Luxuriant Flowers and Other Forms

Ceramic tiles in the Family Hall, NUS Baba House
Image courtesy of Tan Keng Khoon

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Date: 24 September 2014, Wednesday 
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email babahouse@nus.edu.sg
FULLY SUBSCRIBED.

Join us for a talk by Victor Lim, an avid tile collector, to find out more about ceramic tiles, in particular those with Art Nouveau patterns commonly known as "Peranakan" tiles. He will take us on a brief historical journey of the manufacturers and share a few tricks on keeping them in good condition.

Decorative ceramic tiles were used in the latter half of the Victorian era in thousands of houses. They were glazed and incorporated designs predominantly based on floral motifs.

When those tiles gained popularity with the Chinese and Peranakan communities in Southeast Asia, various auspicious Chinese elements were introduced into the decorative designs. These included the dragon, phoenix, qilin, flowers and fruits such as the pomegranate and pineapple. Such tiles can be seen on the external walls of shophouses in areas such as Blair Plain, Emerald Hill, Joo Chiat, Katong and so forth.

About the speaker

Victor Lim is a Peranakan and a tile enthusiast who began collecting in the 1970s. He graduated in 1986 from the Oregon State University with a BA in Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. Victor worked in the hospitality industry before starting Aster by Kyra, a company that manufactures ceramic tiles three years ago. In his free time, he enjoys salvaging tiles from old buildings and restoring old tiles to their former luster. Victor has an impressive collection of up to 8,000 "Peranakan" tiles to-date.

About the Heritage Community Series
Encouraged by the growing community of Singaporeans actively committed to exploring history and raising cultural awareness, the Heritage Community Series is introduced as a platform where independent researchers, heritage enthusiasts and collectors share their encounters, perspectives and experiences. 

Look out for our upcoming talks in the Heritage Community Series
Friday, 3 October 2014 - Demystifying Chinese Portraits
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - A Heavenly Offering

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Heritage Community Series | Emily of Emerald Hill, a Modern Asian Woman?

Margaret Chan as Emily of Emily Hill
Image courtesy of Edmund Low
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Date: 10 September 2014, Wednesday
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email babahouse@nus.edu.sg
TALK IS FULLY SUBSCRIBED. 

Set in the 1950s, Emily of Emerald Hill is a one-woman play chronicling the life of a nonya Emily Gan, and her struggles with patriarchy and the hierarchy among the womenfolk in her in-law’s household.

In her youth, she became aware of the expectations that society had of a woman.  Using her wits, she made herself an indispensable member of the family, and in the process gained influence and dominance over the others. A shadow was cast on these triumphs with her estrangement from her husband and the loss of her son. 

This powerful play revolves around the triumphs and tragedies of a strong willed Peranakan woman who tried to improve her position in life against a backdrop of demands and expectations defined by gender. Is Emily’s life still played out in today’s households?  Join panelists Deborah Tan, Kelly Reedy, Tan Dan Feng and Stella Kon for a lively discussion on Emily as a representation of the 21st century Asian woman.  

Panellists  

Deborah Tan is a Secondary 3 student of Singapore Chinese Girls' School. She is currently the Chairperson of the Girls' Brigade Company in SCGS and is member of several other leadership groups. In 2013, she was the chairperson of the Open Little Eyes Conference, targeted at educating primary school students on world issues, in order to create change, which she is passionate about. She enjoys expressing herself through writing and curling up with a good book.

Artist Kelly Reedy has lived in Southeast Asia for over 15 years. Her work has been influenced by the abstract qualities of Asian folk traditions and the rich symbolism embedded in its mythologies. She has researched the ritual uses of paper across Asia as well as other traditional arts, leading her to incorporate natural dyes, fabric and handmade paper into her mixed media artworks. Kelly has exhibited internationally in Berlin, Paris and Chicago, as well as locally at the Jendela Visual Arts Space, Esplanade, the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Alliance Franรงaise and Sculpture Square.

Tan Dan Feng is the director of Select Books and a linguist and technologist. His public service roles include serving on the National Translation Committee, Television and Radio Advisory Committee Panel of Experts, the Cultural Medallion Award Specialist Panel, amongst others. Dan Feng also chairs the annual Singapore International Translation Symposium. Books that he has edited include Singapore Shifting Boundaries (2011), Indonesia Rising: Islam, Democracy and the Rise of Indonesia as a Major Power (2009) and The Chinese in Indonesia (2008). He is currently working on a translation of a major work on Singapore's intellectual history, focusing on Khoo Seok Wan, Lim Boon Keng and Song Ong Siang.

Playwright Stella Kon grew up in an old mansion in Emerald Hill Road, and is descended from two old Peranakan families. She has been writing about Singapore all her life.  In the 1980's she was a three-times winner of the National Playwriting Competition; one of these plays was Emily of Emerald Hill. Stella now prefers writing musicals to stage plays. She is the Chairperson of arts charity Musical Theatre Live!, which helps create original works of musical theatre. Her most recent work, Emily the Musical, will be seen in Nov 2015.

About the Heritage Community Series
Encouraged by the growing community of Singaporeans actively committed to exploring history and raising cultural awareness, the Heritage Community Series is introduced as a platform where independent researchers, heritage enthusiasts and collectors share their encounters, perspectives and experiences.

Look out for our upcoming talks in the Heritage Community Series
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 - Decorative Art Nouveau Tiles: Luxuriant Flowers and Other Forms
Friday, 3 October 2014 - Demystifying Chinese Portraits
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - A Heavenly Offering

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Curatorial Roundtable 02 | Dis-positions: Between Artistic Practice and Curatorial Practice


Date: 4 September 2014, Thursday  
Time: 6.30 - 9.00pm
Venue: Imagination Room, Level 5, National Library Building


Free admission with registration.
To register, please email museum@nus.edu.sg or call 6516 8817.

Moderator:
Anca Rujoiu (Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore)

Speakers:

Michael Lee

Florin Tudor

While the debate on the intersections between the artist and the curator continues, much of such discussions and theorisations continue to move at the expense of discerning the local contexts within which they are articulated. This session is an attempt to add to this ongoing debate concerning artistic practice and curatorial practice; but at the same time it insists also on a plurality within this discussion by examining the different contexts where artistic practice and curatorial practice may meet.

About the Curatorial Roundtable Series
Presented in conjunction with Curating Lab 2014, the Curatorial Roundtable public talk series gathers together curators and artists working across different fields of research and engagement, to discuss the boundaries of curatorial practice. Amidst the increasing attention paid to the role of the curator, this series aims to probe further into the limits of curatorial practice. Although presented primarily for the participants of Curating Lab 2014, the Curatorial Roundtable is an opportunity to bridge the gap between the curator and the audience, providing opportunities for interaction and stimulating discussions on curatorial practices and processes.

For more: curating-lab.blogspot.com 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Career Opportunity | Curator/Assistant Curator (South & Southeast Asian Collection) - Aug 2014


Responsibilities:
  • Develop, conduct research and catalogue materials/artifacts pertaining to South Asian & South East Asian Collection
  • Undertake publication work and organize public exhibitions/programs to enhance engagement and facilitate access to the collection for both University’s and external community
  • Establish and sustain professional networks, both within and beyond campus with local and international institutions, academia and curators
  • Any other administrative duties, such as committee functions, as assigned by Head Museum and the Centre Director
Requirements:
  • Possess a Degree or Masters in Art History, History, Cultural Studies, Arts Management or equivalent
  • Independent, with skills in research and writing; Prior experience as curator or researcher/archiver will be considered favourably
  • Good organisational and inter-personal skills, and able to multitask and work under pressure

To apply, please click here