Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Call for Internship Applications - May-July 2015



Positions Available

1.    Ng Eng Teng Collection Curatorial Intern

This internship requires the interns to work with the curator on several projects concerning the Ng Eng Teng Collection at the NUS Museum: (1) assist in research and reworking of the current permanent exhibition Sculpting Life; (2) incubate a prep-room project concerning materials collected from Ng Eng Teng’s former studio; (3) assist in the conceptualising of a publication project for the Ng Eng Teng Collection. The Ng Eng Teng Collection is a donation from the late Singapore sculptor and Cultural Medallion recipient of over 1,000 artworks.

Requirements:
Good attitude towards research
Strong interest in curatorial work
Excellent (close) reading and writing abilities
Third-year student and above

Positions Available: 2

------------------------------

2.    Museum Outreach Intern

This internship requires the intern to work with the Museum Outreach team in conceptualising and executing the Museum’s programmes for 2015. These programmes may include talks, seminars and film screenings. The intern will also work on developing publicity content for online and offline platforms. The intern should be prepared to work during the Museum’s evening and Saturday programmes.

Requirements:
Meticulous with a keen attention for details
Good organizational and time-management skills
Pleasant, out-going personality
Proficiency in design software an advantage but not a requirement (please submit a design portfolio if applicable)

Positions Available: 1

------------------------------
  
3.    Education Outreach Intern

This internship requires the intern to work with the Museum Outreach team to research, compile and consolidate the Museum’s education resources for its current exhibitions and collections. The intern will also assist in the organisation and execution of the Museum’s programmes for 2015. These programmes may include talks, seminars and film screenings. The intern should be prepared to work during the Museum’s evening and Saturday programmes.

Requirements:
Strong interest in Southeast Asian, Singaporean art and history. Prior knowledge is helpful but not a requirement.
Familiarity with research methods an advantage
Able to work independently and collaboratively
Meticulous with a keen attention to details
Good organizational and time-management skills

Positions Available: 1

------------------------------

4.    Baba House Conservation Intern

This internship will focus on conservation documentation of the NUS Baba House at 157 Neil Road and creating a bibliography on painting technical analysis to facilitate the study and conservation of an oil painting. The intern will conduct research on the notes, images and drawing from the Baba House conservation project (2006-2008) with the aim of putting together a display which highlights the conservation work that was carried out. The research shall include identifying the major aspects of the conservation (e.g. plasterwork, wood carvings, analysis of wall paint, etc), the key issues discussed and decisions made.

Requirements:
An interest in materials (wood, plaster, etc) and their use in art and architecture
A basic understanding of the methods used in the scientific analysis of materials
Meticulous with a keen attention for details
Able to work independently and collaboratively

Positions Available: 1

------------------------------

5.    Baba House Outreach Intern

This internship requires the intern to work with the Baba House team to conceptualise and execute outreach programmes, including walking tours, children’s and docents training programmes. The intern will learn to conduct heritage tours for the Baba House, assist in house operations and develop content for offline and online platforms. The intern should be prepared to work during the Baba House’s evening and Saturday programmes.

Requirements:
Interest in Peranakan culture
Articulate and comfortable talking to an audience
Pleasant, out-going personality
Meticulous with a keen attention for details
Good organizational and time-management skills


Positions Available: 1

------------------------------

How to Apply


Application Timeline

24 March – 12 April 2015
Open call for application.

12 April 2015
Deadline for submission of applications. Please return a copy of the attached internship application form with a copy of your CV and a recent essay/writing sample via email to museum@nus.edu.sg with the subject header “NUS Museum Internship Programme”. Applications received after this date will not be considered.

16 April 2015
Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for the arrangement of internship interviews. We regret that applicants who were not selected will not be notified.

20 April – 30 April 2015
Internship interviews will take place during this period. Please note that interviews for Position 1 will be scheduled only during 28 – 30 April 2015.

4 May 2015

Shortlisted applicants will be informed of the results of the interviews.



Duration

The official duration of the internship is from 11 May – 31 July 2015 (12 weeks) during the official NUS vacation period. However, this period may be negotiated if you have other commitments or your university’s vacation period differs from NUS. Please state your preferred duration or unavailability in the appropriate section of the application form. It is preferred that applicants are able to commit to at least 10 weeks of the internship for sufficient immersion.

Stipend

Interns will be provided with a stipend of $500 per month.

FAQs

For more information, please check out our list of FAQs at http://on.fb.me/1EvbVcM

For further enquiries, please contact Ms Michelle Kuek at michellekuek@nus.edu.sg or call 6516-8428.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Exhibition | The Library of Pulau Saigon




Opening night & artist talk: - Cancelled
Thursday, 26 March 2015, 7pm


Free admission with registration. 
Register: libraryof.peatix.com

CLICK TO ACCESS EFLYER

Exhibition period:
27 March - December 2015
Venue:
Archaeology Library, NUS Museum

The Library of Pulau Saigon presents new works by artist Debbie Ding created in response to the state of existing literature on Pulau Saigon – a former islet located along the Singapore River until its complete assimilation into the main island in 1990. Trading books and libraries for tools, machines and the heuristic space of a laboratory, the artist has produced a speculative island of archaeological artefacts/ambiguities to be situated within the NUS Museum’s Archaeology Library. Given the paucity of information and public records on Pulau Saigon, this exhibition may be regarded less as an attempt to reconstruct the past of the islet, than a means to project further questions about Pulau Saigon and what it might continue to hold for us. This project grew out of the artist’s earlier work on the Singapore River.

About the artist
Debbie Ding is a visual artist and independent researcher. She facilitates the Singapore Psychogeographical Society, which is devoted to promoting a better understanding of the world through ludic adventures, independent research, digital documentation, and data/archival activism. Some of her previous projects and collaborations include: The Singapore River as a Psychogeographical Faultline (http://psychogeography.sg/river), Ethnographic Fragments from Central Singapore (http://fragments.psychogeography.sg), New Biologist (http://newbiologist.co.uk), and Last Meal (http://farmfarm.net/lastmeal).

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Danuh Tyas

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!   

In December 2014, we invited two students from Soemardja Gallery to participate in our internship programme. Soemardja Gallery is the oldest university gallery in Indonesia; it serves as an educational complement to the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Department of Fine Art and as a cultural resource for the institute and Bandung arts communities. During their internships, Muhamad Ady Nugeraha and Danuh Tyas interacted with fellow interns, as well as worked on research leading towards the building up of an archive on Bandung-based artist Tisna Sanjaya.

~

Archives, Awareness and One Question 
by Danuh Tyas 
Bandung, February 2015 


Hmmm... What did I do during the two-week internship at NUS Museum...? It might be a simple experience, but it might also be an interesting one. For a whole two weeks, my time was filled with activities related to Tisna Sanjaya – an artist from Bandung and also my lecturer at college. In the time of those two weeks, I tried to archive the data about him. 

Creating the archives actually wasn’t a complicated job, it was rather simple, but many people might forget or not think about the necessity of such a thing. During the two weeks, I was searching and collecting data such as articles, news, photos, interviews, and statements about Tisna, and then processing them into neat and easily accessible archives. The most important thing that I gained from the process of searching data and preparing the archives is about ‘awareness’.  Simple awareness, yet often unconscious: that the collected data that has not been processed is not yet an archive, and the task to compose the archives of an artist, may capitalise simple things–at least it happened for me– such as when I spent time in front of the computer screen relying on an internet connection to search for data. In my opinion, it actually would be better including books for reference; we can’t depend too much just on information off the Internet.

I think that this kind of awareness is often forgotten in the present. In my head, I often imagined that archives are those stacked and dusty objects or documents in the corner of the library or warehouse. That kind of "old-school" imaginations of archives actually makes me happy to search, “hunt”, and collect the old and dusty documents or objects like that. It is pleasant to feel like I am  “treasure hunting”. The problem is, when I had to find and collect various kinds of documents and objects, I forgot to process it further, so that all kinds of thse documents and objects eventually were just stacked neatly in a drawer, without further processing.  And now I have just realised, what I have collected in all this time, has not yet become an archive. Yes, that is so ...

And oh, there is another form of awareness that I found interesting after I compiled the archives of Tisna. It’s about the awareness of processing data and compiling them into the archives. In the process I also had to consider a simple system that would be easy to understand for others accessing it. Therefore, it is the need to arrange archives that come equipped with complete information and ordered as neatly as possible. And for this point, I think all this time, I have not put a single thought to it... 

Finally, two weeks of my internship ended and I have returned to Bandung to think about many things, plus the ‘awareness’ that I’ve got. I think that both “archives” and “compiling archives” itself are important things, especially for spaces like museums or art academies; as institutions (place) that produce, share and disseminate knowledge about art. In addition, I am also thinking about how important the existence of archives about the artists, records, and documentation of various art activities are for the country itself, such as in Indonesia –where I come from - where its art history is not yet considered as old and there are many fractures, ruptures within a maze of information. I also think that compiling archives may not only be of the author's own interest, but it also concerns the interests of others. In addition, it should think about a accessible yet simple system for people or other later usage, and thus a compiled archive should also allow various possibilities for research  and a variety of knowledge to be produced and distributed. Last but not least, there is an important question (yet it might be a personal one) that is floating in my head: after searching, collecting and processing data; after making and compiling neat and easily accessible archives, then - as students, academics, researchers, curators or others - with archives that I have and have collected; “What would I make...?”

Monday, 9 March 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Liang Siyi

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! 

In January 2015, three JC 1 students, Dana Gan,  Kim Soh Won and Liang Siyi, interned with us for a month as part of Temasek Junior College's Wonder. Observe. Weave! (WOW!) Attachment Programme. Across their four-week attachment, they were tasked to do research and craft educational activities for the primary level based on our new Sherd Library.
 
~
 
Four weeks of internship came to an end much more quickly than any of us had expected. In retrospect, the whole month of WOW! Attachment in NUS Museum has definitely been a meaningful and memorable experience. Throughout the attachment, we worked as a team to draft a proposal for school activities in the museum mainly and also went on several intriguing learning tours to places beyond the NUS Museum to broaden our vision. During our time here, there were a large number of relevant archives and documents provided by our mentor for us to read and hence gain a better understanding on the history behind the artefacts. The research tasks daily might have been tedious and energy-consuming at times, but were actually very helpful in providing us a clear view of the connections among the numerous artefacts of different backgrounds and gave legitimacy to the museum activities we proposed. 

Before I came for this internship programme, my understanding of a museum was rather limited and consequently I was enlightened when I learnt about the projects we were assigned to for this month – to think of all the possible ways for young school students to interact with seemingly static museum exhibitions. This was so much of a freeform challenge that we were able to let our imagination and creativity run free but eventually we came up with the objectives of interaction and comprehension. My team mates and I started by doing extensive research on the targeted artifacts and gathered a large amount of information. Later, we consolidated our findings and tried to obtain some inspiration for the activities. 




One of the final outcomes of our work was an activity named “Complete the World Trade Route”. The activity was basically about interpreting the different trade routes which terminated at Singapore all around the world during the 15th to 19th centuries (the period when most of the ceramics pieces in the Sherd Library were manufactured). First off, we provided detailed descriptions of some selected sherds with very typical characteristics and hoped that the students could from there make reasonable deductions towards the possible origins of the artifacts. We believe that this form of activity can be more appealing to young students than giving them a dull and monotonous presentation of the history of the sherds. We hope that all of these activities will be appreciated by the students who travel to this museum and look forward to a unique and memorable experience.

Besides the main project we spent most of our time on, the learning journeys to NUS Baba House and National Museum also made up a great part of our unforgettable learning experience. In the third week of the attachment, we were given the opportunity to join a guided tour in the NUS Baba House, a heritage house owned by a traditional Peranakan family in the past. Our first impression of the exquisite blue-coloured housing was its splendid carved motifs and decorations covering every single corner of the house which seemingly had a kind of magic to take us on a flashback to those good old days. Our guide was a graceful and cultivated lady who was familiar with every single piece of history about the house and presented them in a smooth and appropriate pace so much so that everyone were fully immersed in the charm of the stories.

For the second trip, we went to the National Museum of Singapore to visit the ongoing exhibition “Singapura: 700 Hundred Years”. The exhibition introduced a number of historical sites in Singapore such as Old Parliament House, Empress Place and Istana Kampong Glam with detailed illustration. We are very lucky to encounter this exhibition at the right time since a great number of artefacts were excavated from these sites in Singapore and many of them were currently displayed in NUS Museum as well. 

All in all, this full month of internship in NUS has been a truly enlightening experience which has exposed me to various aspects in life and caused me to appreciate all of the roles of and hard work by the museum staff to keep the museum in well maintenance. I would like to thank our mentor Ms Michelle Kuek for her patience and kindness in guiding us throughout the whole internship month as well as all the other staff in the museum whose selfless help made up our most memorable moments in NUS.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Kim Soh Won

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! 

In January 2015, three JC 1 students, Dana Gan,  Kim Soh Won and Liang Siyi, interned with us for a month as part of Temasek Junior College's Wonder. Observe. Weave! (WOW!) Attachment Programme. Across their four-week attachment, they were tasked to do research and craft educational activities for the primary level based on our new Sherd Library.

~  

I had a really fulfilling experience during these four weeks in NUS Museum. It not only changed my view and understanding of museums in general but also helped me gain more knowledge and interest in areas such as Southeast Asian and Singapore history. Prior to this internship, I used to have the perception that a museum is a rather boring place; this was probably because I always looked through the exhibits without truly understanding them and why they were displayed in such a manner. However, the activities I have done in this one-month internship have completely changed my view of museums. Now, I believe that I am able to better appreciate why exhibits are displayed in a particular manner and also the process behind making worksheets for students who visit the museum for excursions.

 Our main focus of our attachment was to research on Bakau shipwrecks and make worksheets for primary and secondary school students. The research on Bakau shipwrecks has really helped me understand shipwrecks better and realise that they are not merely broken pieces of shards found in the sea, but also a clue to the cultures and trades that took place at the point of time. The quote that I really loved from Kwa Chong Guan’s Locating Singapore on the Maritime Silk Road was “The snapshot nature of shipwreck data provide time-capsules which allow, with data from a sufficient number of wrecks spread over a substantial period of time, a moving image of the development of this maritime trade to emerge.” This quote enabled me to really understand that archaeologists use the discovered shards as a clue to trace back to the past in order to find out more about the lifestyles then. After thorough research, I revisited the NUS Museum and to my surprise, I, who previously found museums a rather boring place, was engaged by the exhibits the whole time.


Besides researching, my two group members and I created three worksheets for primary and secondary school students. In order to understand how students usually learn at their respective levels, we looked through the History and Social Studies textbooks they use in schools and this enabled us to roughly understand how the questions are asked and phrased and the types of activities that are suitable for students of different grades. We tried to create activities that involve a lot of interaction with the museum displays – shards from Singapore and Southeast Asia as well as the shipwrecks. The activities we have come up with require observation, comparison and most importantly inference skills as well as creativity and imagination. 

For instance, for primary school students, we asked them to freely express their opinions about the ceramic wares they observe in the museum. We felt that instead of asking primary school students to solve difficult questions which require prior knowledge on the topic, it would be better to encourage them to appreciate and observe the exhibits more carefully by asking them to describe the exhibits and give their feelings about it. For upper primary school students, we added in inference questions, which are guided step-by-step as we were afraid that the students would not be able to derive the answer. For instance, first, we asked the students to describe unique patterns they can observe on the shards, then asked them to infer the country of origin based on the answer they gave in the previous part. 

Questions for secondary school students were similar in nature, but less guided as we wanted to drill their thinking skills. For instance, questions such as “What can you infer from the proximity of these sites where the shards were found?” and “Why do you think a number of ceramic wares were found in these areas? Explain your answers for every location.” were asked directly without any guiding questions or clues. We believe that these activities will be able to guide the students to better understand the history behind the shards that are displayed in the museum in a more interesting way. 

  
We also had a chance to visit the National Museum, where I learnt that surprisingly, many archaeologists have been quietly excavating in Singapore for the last three decades - they have been investigating the activities and life of the early settlers on the island. I felt that the National Museum’s exhibition on Singapore archaeology was rather similar to that of NUS Museum and thus I was able to relate to and enjoy their exhibition even more. 

We also had the chance to visit the NUS Baba House, a heritage home run by NUS Museum, for a one-hour heritage tour. This was indeed my favourite and the most memorable experience throughout this internship programme as we could experience the lifestyle of a typical Peranakan family in 1920s and I personally felt as though I was walking through history as I toured the house. All in all, this tour has definitely raised my interests in the Peranakan culture and I would love to revisit soon. 











All in all, I have definitely grown to love museum exhibitions, especially the archaeological findings. The museum to me is no longer a boring place, but a place where I can truly appreciate the past and drill myself to make conclusions based on what I observe. Though NUS Museum is not large in terms of its size or number of exhibits, there is no doubt that it is a good start for visitors to gain interest in Singapore and Southeast Asian history as well as museum exhibitions in general.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

March 2015 | Malaya Black & White film screenings

This March, the Malaya Black & White film series returns with a brand new season, Beyond Saint Jack, guest-curated by author and critic Ben Slater. The season will kick off with the screening of Saint Jack (1979) on 11 March followed by Pretty Polly (1967) on 18 March at the NUS Museum. 

NOTE:
Both events are SOLD OUT. In the case of cancellations, these spaces will be made available on the Peatix event page.

Check for updates here: http://saintjackprettypolly.peatix.com/


CLICK TO ACCESS E-FLYER
CLICK TO ACCESS FACEBOOK EVENT 

Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Time: 7pm
Venue: NUS Museum 
Register: SOLD OUT

saintjackprettypolly.peatix.com

 Rated M18.
*Please bring some form of identification for entry.

Banned for nearly 30 years in Singapore, Peter Bogdanovich’s adaptation of Paul Theroux’s novel is the most notorious film (entirely) shot in the Lion City. Ben Gazzara is unforgettable as Jack Flowers, a moral pimp, scheming and dreaming across the slippery landscape of a rapidly changing 1970s Singapore. Jack’s the archetypal ‘old hand’ in exotic climes, and yet he’s a melancholy and generous figure – straddling local and expatriate milieu, authentically captured by Bogdanovich, a brilliant European crew, and a cast of mainly non-professionals discovered in Singapore. This screening is accompanied by a segment from the BBC TV series ‘Moving Pictures’, depicting the film being shot on location in 1978.

Date: Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Time: 7pm

Venue: NUS Museum
Register:  SOLD OUT
saintjackprettypolly.peatix.com



 

Rarely seen today (it’s not on DVD!), this big-budget adaptation of Noel Coward’s acidic Singapore-set short story was shot almost entirely in Singapore in early 1967. Despite a great deal of local excitement about teen megastar Hayley Mills and Bollywood king Shashi Kapoor making a film here, Pretty Polly was not successful, but it remains a fascinating depiction of Singapore as a hedonistic playground for swinging grown-ups, where Mills experiences romantic liberation. Trevor Howard is the long-term expat uncle (who works at a rubber plantation) with his younger Chinese lover, a cynical remnant of the end of empire.  

About ‘Beyond Saint Jack’ - The strange cinematic visitors of Singapore and Malaya
Singapore/Malaya’s heyday of foreign production from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s led to a motley filmography of B-movies, commercial disasters, miscellaneous TV episodes, lost films and bizarre curios. While they resist canonisation, these films are a fascinating portal into how the region was perceived by the rest of the world both before and after the end of the colonial era; and the eagerness for Singapore and Malaysia to be represented and acknowledged by the West. A recurring motif of their narratives is the Western visitor in Singapore. This season of 10 films showcases the predecessors and descendants of Saint Jack (1979): old hands, good men, legal aliens, rugged individualists, ex-soldiers, detectives, has-beens and rock stars. Characters who have found themselves ensnared in traps beyond their control, stumbled across exotic, bewildering cultures, or entered zones of erotic possibility.  

Beyond Saint Jack is guest-curated by author and critic Ben Slater, who will be present to introduce and discuss each film. 

About Ben Slater
Ben Slater is the author of Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore (2006), a major contributor to World Film Locations: Singapore (2014) and the editor of 25: Histories and Memories of the Singapore International Film Festival (2014). He’s also the co-screenwriter of the feature film Camera (2014) and a Lecturer at the School of Art, Media and Design, Nanyang Technological University. 

Find out more about the Malaya Black & White project:
malayablackandwhite.wordpress.com/

Monday, 23 February 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Dana Gan

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! 

In January 2015, three JC 1 students, Dana Gan,  Kim Soh Won and Liang Siyi, interned with us for a month as part of Temasek Junior College's Wonder. Observe. Weave! (WOW!) Attachment Programme. Across their four-week attachment, they were tasked to do research and craft educational activities for the primary level based on our new Sherd Library.

-
 
The internship in NUS Museum for the past one month has been filled with many new enriching experiences. We focused on is the archaeology section in the museum. This section consists of sherds from Singapore historical sites (eg: Fort Canning), shipwrecks (eg: Pinggang shipwreck) as well as other Southeast Asian countries. 


Our main task was to come up with a proposal consisting of different worksheets for students from lower primary, upper primary and secondary schools so that they can have a better understanding of the museum and the exhibitions going on. The three of us have edited the proposal four times and we have really made great progress every time after discussing with our external mentor, Ms Kuek.

 The following is a map we created showing the locations of historical sites in Singapore:
“What can you infer from the proximity of these sites where the sherds were found?”
We developed this question because we would like the students to infer that the five historical sites all gathered near the Singapore River. It indicates that trading has taken place in the regions near the Singapore River and objects from different countries were once exchanged there and that is why a large number of shards of different origins could be excavated in these regions.This question requires the students to be observant and we believe that the ability to observe and infer is essential for students.

In the process, we learnt how to stand in the shoes of students and hence create activities that are interesting for them. Secondly, we have realized how important teamwork and cooperation are in the process. The task has enabled us to value our working (studying) partners more which I think is essential for our upcoming Project Work course in JC1. Hence, I believe the WOW! Attachment has really prepared me for JC. 

Apart from these tasks, we also went on two field trips to the National Museum of Singapore and the NUS Baba House. Firstly, for the National Museum of Singapore, we went for the archaeology exhibition on the B1 floor, hoping to learn some additional information about Singapore historical sites and archaeology. We also went for the “Singapura: 700 Years” exhibition near the archaeology exhibition, hoping to learn more about the Singapore history (since the three of us are foreigners).


The NUS Baba House trip was the most fun field trip I have had in the two years I have been in Singapore. The NUS Baba House showcases Peranakan history, architecture and heritage. The guide was enthusiastic and humorous and we have really learnt a lot about the Peranakan life in the past. The decor inside the house was truly amazing and it gripped our attention right away. We also gained understanding of the female discrimination during the time. I think we should not take the relative gender equality we have nowadays for granted. We should look more to history and continue to make efforts to make this world a more equal, harmonious place.

Lastly, I also attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition Curating Lab: Phase 03 at NUS Museum. That night was unforgettable. After the ceremony, we had a better understanding of contemporary art and the debates over its importance and position in society.

This month’s experience has been really great and exciting, and I am thankful for the chance to be an intern at NUS Museum.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Natalie Soh

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! 

In December 2014, 8 interns joined us to work with the curatorial and outreach teams, conducting research for upcoming exhibitions and programmes in 2015 at the museum and the NUS Baba House. Besides those involving our collections and recent acquisitions, the interns prepared for upcoming exhibitions surrounding the work of alumni artists, the T.K. Sabapathy Collection, as well as SEABOOK. They also assisted with ongoing happenings at the museum, including exhibition installation and programme facilitation. 
-  

Natalie Soh is a 4th year USP Scholar and Sociology student at NUS FASS. In December 2014, she joined us as a Baba House outreach and research intern, contributing to walking tour research which delved into housing schemes undertaken by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), challenges faced by the housing commission, Everton Road and Tiong Bahru estates and the development of the Housing Development Board (HDB). She also assisted with Museum and Baba House Outreach activities.


During my one-month internship with the NUS Baba House, I was assigned to research on the Housing Development Board (HDB), as well as its predecessor Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). Specifically, I was tasked to examine the histories of various early HDB and SIT flats that are still around today, such as the Tiong Bahru estate and Everton Park. Having had no prior background in this, it was indeed eye-opening to be learning about the evolution of HDB from SIT, as well as the various challenges faced along the way. Furthermore, as SIT was formed during the British colonial era, I was able to learn about the struggles and successes of the colonial government at that time, especially with regards to their efforts at clearing the slums and introducing public housing.

Tiong Bahru was an especially interesting estate to look at, not least because of its recent popularity among young entrepreneurs, new residents, and tourists. Through researching on its development from when it was first built until today, I was able to process the changes that have taken place, as well as the implications resulting from such changes. In particular, the entry of various new competitive businesses have generated some friction among the long-time residents who see these as spoiling the original ambience of the area. In some ways, this is also a reflection of the broader tension that can be found throughout Singapore between what should be conserved and what constitutes progress.

An intriguing discovery I made during the research had to do with how Everton Park seemed to be in a similar situation to Tiong Bahru, but has reaped vastly different effects. Like the latter, Everton Park has seen a surge of popularity among new and independent shops, cafes, and bakeries. Thus, walking through the estate today, one is able to observe a good mix of old and new businesses juxtaposed against one another, operating side by side. However, unlike Tiong Bahru, this entry of young entrepreneurs has not resulted in a backlash among long-time residents and business owners. Instead, they are welcome as new blood, and seen to contribute to the vibrancy and liveliness of the estate. Thus begets the question, ‘Why is there such a disparity in reaction in Tiong Bahru and Everton Park?’

My conjecture is that there are both historical and economic reasons which may explain this difference. Firstly, Tiong Bahru is a rare pre-war site that is officially under conservation status. This unique feature means that the area is relatively well-known throughout the country, and possibly contributes to the perception of quaintness that it is commonly associated with today. Unsurprisingly, the demand for commercial spaces among independent businesses is high, and as a result, rental prices shoot up. Long-time business owners who are unable to deal with such high costs inevitably close down, and tension between the new and old is aggravated as the new shops are perceived to be fierce competitors. On the flipside, Everton Park is a considerably newer estate built by HDB in the 1960s. The building’s features are more commonplace, and less unique compared to that of Tiong Bahru. Hence, it might be viewed as a relatively less charming, and demand for rental shop spaces is lower. Without the similar problem of inflated rental costs, existing business owners in the area are less likely to view new businesses as competition, and thus are more welcoming to them.

I came to this conclusion only after uncovering the details and historical facts of the respective estates, and then trying to draw the links between them and the phenomenon seen today. It was most gratifying to have reached this postulation after hours of research.

Apart from research, I also helped out at the Baba House, be it at ad-hoc events, or during the heritage tours. My tasks were usually simple, such as ensuring that the doors and windows are opened before the guests arrive, or helping to lock up and switch off everything after they leave. However, instead of finding them mundane and trivial, I came to notice how much effort it took to upkeep a conserved Peranakan home. As the furniture were mostly genuine antiques, much care had to be given to them at all times. Fahdly and Poonam were extremely meticulous in making sure that things were always arranged in a precise order, and took extra precautions in maintaining the house. From this, I learned that the pristine conditions of conserved artefacts and environments that visitors generally take for granted have undergone great care and restoration before going on display.

During one Saturday of the December break, the Baba House conducted a children’s workshop where parents and children came together to learn about Peranakan tiles, and ultimately design their own tile. It was definitely heart-warming to see each pair work together to produce a work of art they were proud of. Most surprisingly, the children were able to direct their attention to painting their tiles for a good two hours! Their intense focus reflected how seriously they took the workshop, and how determined they were to produce a decent-looking Peranakan tile. Personally, I felt that this was a creative and engaging way to teach not only children, but also people of all ages about the Peranakan culture and way of life.

In all, it has indeed been an enriching time working at the Baba House. Although the bulk of my research was confined to analysing HDB, I have also learned a lot about the Peranakan culture and lifestyle, and have had the privilege of experiencing first-hand the kind of environment they once lived in.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Laura Tan

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! 

In December 2014, 8 interns joined us to work with the curatorial and outreach teams, conducting research for upcoming exhibitions and programmes in 2015 at the museum and the NUS Baba House. Besides those involving our collections and recent acquisitions, the interns prepared for upcoming exhibitions surrounding the work of alumni artists, the T.K. Sabapathy Collection, as well as SEABOOK. They also assisted with ongoing happenings at the museum, including exhibition installation and programme facilitation. 
-  

Laura Tan is a Masters student at NUS Architecture. She spent December 2014 as an Open Excess Curatorial Intern, during which she assisted with the research, development and installation of the exhibition.Opened on 23 January 2015, the exhibition, which is conceptualised as a prep-room initiative, is presently showing in the NX2 Gallery (Concourse Level).

“the paratext is … a threshold … an ‘undefined zone’ between the inside and the outside, a zone without any hard and fast boundary … ‘a fringe of the printed text which in reality controls one’s reading of the text’ … a zone not only of transition but also of transaction.”
- Gerard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation 

I was introduced to the concepts of intertextuality and paratexts during the course of my internship. Referring to the shaping of a text’s own meaning by another text, intertextuality is a method that charts out connections between different ideas. This act of drawing up relationships between concepts is something that underpins the curatorial intentions of the museum as each exhibition subtly calls back to another exhibit, or is framed by and seen through the lens of yet another exhibition.   This literary technique perhaps became all the more relevant as I was working on the T.K. Sabapathy book collection. Intertextuality and paratexts became a meta-rule of sorts as I was lucky enough to be involved in the conceptualisation of the exhibition. One of the tasks I worked on was to think of new ways to frame or re-arrange the extensive catalogue of books for display. This in itself became an exercise in intertextuality as I attempted to find, posit or speculate upon connections between the books, which spanned across a range of topics and academic disciplines.   

L: The donated books, wrapped up before the set-up
R. ‘Getting a feel’ of the space during set-up
Another text that underpinned my internship experience was probably Gary Radford’s “Positivism, Foucault, and the Library,” which touched on the systems of classifications a library uses, and the “presence of an infinite number of spaces ‘in the interval between books. In such spaces reside the possibility of ‘impossible worlds’” – worlds for readers and researchers to discover. But drawing up these new worlds requires the reader to undertake a curious process of triangulation. The reader must work within a rational grid of library shelves, immersed in (or constrained by) a coordinate system that is arranged by topics, disciplines, and call numbers. Yet he or she must also challenge and circumvent the logic of the library, mapping out connections across this grid in order to determine the location and shape of these hidden worlds.

Working on the Sabapathy exhibition got me thinking about what it means to be cross-disciplinary. Coming from an architectural background (which is in itself an interdisciplinary effort), curatorship had always lain on the periphery of ‘related fields’ but was something I had very limited understanding of, and subsequently, had much to learn about. 
 
Experimenting with furniture layouts
Coming in “with fresh eyes” also meant “getting one’s eye in” – and perhaps this was the most memorable aspect of my internship, where I was formulating ideas in response to the material set before me, (naively) unfettered by my own newness to curatorial concerns.  Perhaps this is the essence of interdisciplinary work – working with uncertainty of the parameters, testing and reshaping the limits as one goes along.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Phoon Gui Shuen

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! 

In December 2014, 8 interns joined us to work with the curatorial and outreach teams, conducting research for upcoming exhibitions and programmes in 2015 at the museum and the NUS Baba House. Besides those involving our collections and recent acquisitions, the interns prepared for upcoming exhibitions surrounding the work of alumni artists, the T.K. Sabapathy Collection, as well as SEABOOK. They also assisted with ongoing happenings at the museum, including exhibition installation and programme facilitation. 

-  

Phoon Gui Shuen is a final-year Engineering undergraduate at NUS. Gui Shuen joined the Outreach team as a creative design intern for the month of December 2014, contributing to and assisting in the conceptualisation and design of publicity materials for both upcoming and ongoing exhibitions and programmes.

During the December break, I decided to challenge myself to broaden my horizons and venture into the field of collateral design. I am grateful for this opportunity that the NUS Museum has given me. Having admired the work done by great designers, I hope to be able to learn and do it better with my personal touch. Hoping sets me direction while doing gives me the courage to learn and surpass my skills & knowledge. The past one month was definitely a fruitful period for me to exercise my creative muscles as I handled the projects from the Outreach team.

My projects were namely roadside banner, tri-fold brochure, concourse banners, lift stickers and film e-flyers. After receiving the briefs, I went through the creative process of brainstorming and testing before conceptualising and finalising the artwork. All the artworks were created using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Along the way, there were rounds of discussions with my superiors to explore and streamline our approaches towards the projects. Getting to know the strategies behind the purposes for the various artworks definitely helped and offered a good start to designing. Also, it was beneficial that I had experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as these projects were great opportunities to understand more about the design software. I am now more confident in my software skills in terms of familiarity with applications and shortcuts as well as transforming a paper design into a digital design.

An internship can be as empowering as you want it to be; it is a good time to explore and try out different things if you have not yet figured out what your calling is. If design rings a bell in your head, I encourage you to go for it and you can be the next one writing your own story. Everyone has the gift to be creative in their own ways; don’t waste it!