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NUS Museum's mission is to actively facilitate the intellectual and cultural life of the NUS community. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on Southeast Asian art and culture, the Museum contributes to and facilitates the production, reception, and preservation of knowledge through collections development and curatorial practice, developing partnerships within NUS, the cultural and heritage industry, and the global knowledge community.
The roots of NUS Museum can be traced to the establishment in 1955 of the University Art Museum at the then University of Malaya located in Singapore. Under the direction of Michael Sullivan, the museum's first curator from 1954 to 1960, the collection was instrumental in the teaching and study of Art History at the university. Established before Singapore's independence, the University Art Museum may be regarded as a prototypical museum institution, its historical trajectory and collection reflecting the search for a Malayan identity situated within the context of Southeast Asia, China and India.
With its diverse collection ranging from classical Chinese and Indian materials to modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art, the NUS Museum today remains an integral part of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Its collections and curatorial practices make it a comprehensive resource for teaching and research, furthering NUS' mission to transform the way people think and work through education, research and service. In 2004, the Museum became affiliated to the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA) – a multi-faceted arts agency that promotes the quality and growth of the arts in NUS, Singapore and beyond.
The museum has over 7000 artefacts and artworks divided across four collections: The Lee Kong Chian Collection consists of a wide representation of Chinese materials from ancient to contemporary art; the South and Southeast Asian Collection holds a range of works from Indian classical sculptures to modern pieces; and the Ng Eng Teng Collection is a donation from the late Singapore sculptor and Cultural Medallion recipient of over 1,000 artworks. A fourth collection, the Straits Chinese Collection, is located at NUS' Baba House at 157 Neil Road.
NUS Museum also manages the Baba House located at 157 Neil Road. One of the last surviving Straits Chinese houses in Singapore, it was launched in September 2008 after comprehensive research and restoration work done in partnership with the NUS Department of Architecture and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The Baba House was a gift from Ms Agnes Tan to the University to encourage appreciation of and research into Straits Chinese history, identity, iconography and architecture.
User Ratings Summary
User rating summary from: 1 user(s)
Fantastic China Artefacts
I've never heard of NUS Museum until I decided to register for a Bukit Brown Cemetary heritage walk, which required me to submit my registration and payment there. At that time, since I was already at the museum, I decided to tour around the galleries. I only had time to tour 2 galleries--the South and Southeast Asia gallery and the China gallery.
The great thing about the NUS Museum is admission is free (even NHB museums charge a nominal admission fee) and we are allowed to take photographs. I'm not sure whether flash is permitted, but I didn't use it.
I first toured the South and Southeast Asia gallery, which was on the 2nd floor, and the first thing I noticed was that most of the artefacts were not labelled. I queried at the front desk on the 2nd floor, and the receptionist said that the descriptions were all in a catalogue. If I wish to, I could borrow it, but I need to sign out for it. Of course I signed out the catalogue, since the information complemented my viewing of the artefacts. I just found this very troublesome, and wished the museum could have put the labels, descriptions and stories together with the artefacts, but I guessed the museum did not do so due to space constraint.
Another issue that made me uncomfortable was it was not clear why certain artefacts were put together. The entire organisation of this gallery looked rather haphazard, and I was rather confused.
After touring the South and Southeast Asia gallery, I returned the catalogue and walked down to the 1st floor to tour the China gallery. What a vast difference! The China gallery was very very well organised indeed! The NUS Museum had a very fantastic collection of China artefacts.
One group of artefacts that made me very excited was the oracle bones. What was so exciting was that the very first Chinese writings were carved on oracle bones! Another unforgettable artefact was a beautiful bronze money tree, which was a burial object found in an Eastern Han tomb.
Another group of ancient China artefacts were the potteries, stone and jade from the New Stone Age and Bronze eras. Even during those primitive times, the Chinese already knew how to make beautiful pottery and jade objects.
Of the two galleries, I definitely prefer the China gallery, as it housed a much bigger collection of artefacts and is more neatly organised. I enjoyed myself thoroughly touring the museum. If you are into Chinese artefacts, I strongly recommend you pay NUS Museum a visit, as they house many ancient Chinese artefacts that are not found in the NHB museums.