Friday, 5 December 2014

NUS Baba House | Singapore Art Week 2015

During Singapore Art Week 2015 (17 – 25 January), the NUS Baba House is collaborating with the National Arts Council to offer three site-specific programmes: 

CultureHackSG 1.0 (*Three repeat sessions)
Cost: $10.00
Learn more and register:

This inaugural instalment of CultureHackSG 1.0 explores the idea of hybridity. Inspiration is drawn from two notable instances of hybrid encounters – an early 20th century (c. 1920) setting at NUS Baba House, and contents of recipe books written for European residents in Malaya.
NUS Baba House was previously the home of a Peranakan Chinese family. In the early 20th century, the Peranakan Chinese domestic culture encompassed a rich mix of Chinese, Southeast Asian and European elements. The absorption of ideas and practices from different ethnic origins gave rise to the community’s rich cultural heritage and formed the basis of its distinct identity. European residents in Malaya were introduced to the region’s produce and local culinary traditions. European recipes were adjusted based to available ingredients while adaptations were made to indigenous dishes to suit the Western palette. The variety that has come about from this interaction is manifested in the range of fusion offerings at contemporary dining outlets.

The two instances demonstrate the outcomes from contact and exchange among diverse groups. Using food as a point of entry, this edition of CultureHackSG contemplates the possibilities when ideas are shared and adapted. The first segment of the two-part programme is the creation sessions where culinary and cultural specialists and participants experiment to generate new works. We imagine that the outcomes may take the form of edible concoctions but will only know for sure when the sessions are in progress! Three sharing sessions will form the second part of the programme where participants talk about the process and its outputs.

Heritage Tours
Cost:  Free
Limited to 13 persons per tour. Recommended for adults and children aged 13 and above.
Learn more and register: 

This one hour heritage tour introduces visitors to the history and architectural features of the House, the Straits Chinese domestic culture and the exhibition at the gallery on the third floor. Guests will experience visiting a Straits Chinese family home in the 1920s on the first and second floors which are furnished with heirlooms from the Wee family (the previous owners of the house) and other donors.

The third floor currently showcases the exhibition Kebon Indah: Mintio & Kabul,Kelompok Batik Tulis Sido Luhur, Collaboration, which runs till 31 January 2015. This exhibition features a series of textiles which combine photographic cyanotype printing with batik techniques. They were the result of a collaboration of two contemporary artists, Samantha Tio (Mintio) and Budi Agung Kuswara (Kabul), and batik makers of the Sido Luhur group from the central Javanese village of Kebon Indah.

Cyanotype Workshops (*Two repeat sessions)
Cost: $30
Limited to 16 persons per session. Recommended for adults and children aged 13 and above.
Learn more and register: 
The on-going exhibition at the NUS Baba House, Kebon Indah: Mintio & Kabul, Kelompok Batik Tulis Sido Luhur, Collaboration displays a series of artworks which combines the tradition of batik making with portrait photography. This 2-hour workshop will allow participants to get hands-on exposure in creating a cyanotype print on fabric - one of the methods used by Mintio & Kabul in creating the artworks.

The artists will also talk about the process behind cyanotype, a type of photographic printing that produces a cyan blue print. Discovered in the 1840s, the process was mainly used by architects in the reproduction of large architectural and mechanical drawings. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Grounded Conversations (In Medias Res) | Field Notes #1: Objects

Close up of Together Again (Wood:Cut) Part IV: ART HISTORIES, Lucy Davis, 2013.
Persuading, Tan Tee Chie, 1958, recast in print fragments from a 1930s teak bed found in Rangood Road in 2009.

Date: Friday, 5 December 2014
Time: 7 - 9pm
Venue: Grey Projects, 6B Kim Tian Road


Limited seating for 25 pax. Free with registration. Please register with to receive a copy of the pre-session readings.

This session brings together artists, writers and curators for a discussion on objects and their agency. Excerpts from literary works selected by artist and writer Jason Wee will be shared between participants and the audience in advance, functioning as a medium between participants and the audience. Participants include Jason Wee, Andrea Fam, Bruce Quek, Melissa Tan and Kenneth Tay.

This session is presented in conjunction with the exhibition "When you get closer to the heart, you may find cracks..." | Stories of Wood by the Migrant Ecologies Project held at the NUS Museum.

About Grounded Conversations: In Medias Res
An extension of NUS Museum's Grounded Conversations series, Grounded Conversations: In Medias Res aims to facilitate a thinking around the question of media and the extra-medial from the perspective of artists and their practices.

Presenting a series of distinct projects on how art practitioners have begun to adopt comprehensive paradigms in their fieldwork methods traditionally associated with anthropological and historical research, Grounded Conversations brings together practitioners from the contemporary art work to unravel this 'anthropological turn'.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Children's Season 2014 | Creative Tile Painting Workshop

Date: Saturday, 6 & 13 December 2014 (repeat sessions)
Time: 2 - 4.30pm

Age Group: 7 - 12 years old
Fees: $50 per pair

Limited to 14 parent-child pairs per session.
To register, email or call 61568817 / 8428.
Registration is confirmed only upon payment of workshop fees.

Decorative ceramic tiles were used in the latter half of the Victorian era in thousands of houses. Commonly known as Art Nouveau tiles, they were glazed with designed predominantly based on floral motifs and used as decorative elements in homes. This December holidays, join our Creative Tile Painting Workshop to learn the basic techniques of painting on ceramic tiles and explore the colour palette found in the NUS Baba House. Working as a team, parent and child will get to bring home their Peranakan-inspired tile at the end of the workshop!

About the artist
Rasha Eleyan has lived in Singapore for over 12 years and is known for her pop-culture inspired works. She was inspired by the richness of the Peranakan culture that she gave up practicing as a television producer and turned full time artist. Rasha graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the Yarmouk University in Jordan and advanced painting and nude drawing from Libera Accademia Di Belle Arti of Rome. Her works have been showcased internationally in Rome and Jordan, as well as locally at the Blue Door Gallery, Art Affair at Wessex Estate, Gorth Art Gallery and Ion Gallery.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Call for Internship Applications - Dec 2014

Positions Available

1. Curatorial & Research Intern (General Projects)
This internship will require the intern to assist with curatorial projects pertaining to the NUS Museum’s upcoming Resource Gallery such as creating glossaries and organizing research materials, mapping Vietnam War materials to prospect for ideas for a Prep-Room project, and organizing an upcoming exhibition featuring the works of alumni artist.

General knowledge in Asian & Southeast Asian art and history, in particular Vietnam, preferred
Knowledge in Chinese visual language an advantage
Dependable and responsible
- Willingness to explore and engage with all facets of curatorial labour
Able to work independently and collaboratively
Suitable for Year 2 students and above

Positions Available: 1

Duration: 8 Dec 2014 – 9 Jan 2015

Stipend: $500


2. SEABOOK Curatorial Intern

This internship requires the intern to assist in the documentation and presentation of research materials gathered as part of the SEABOOK project. Opening in January 2015 as part of National Library Board’s (NLB) Mapping Festival, SEABOOK is a collaboration between NUS Museum, curator Shabbir Hussain Mustafa and artist Charles Lim. Working extensively with materials from NLB’s collection that deals with Singaporean waters, SEABOOK is a project aimed at accumulating an anecdotal history of Singapore’s troubled relationship with its seas.  

- Keen interest in Singapore’s maritime history from the pre-colonial to the present
Willingness to explore and engage with all facets of curatorial labour
- Strong sense of commitment to a project beyond stipulated internship period
- Suitable for second year students and above

Positions available: 2

Duration: 8 Dec 2014 – 9 Jan 2015. (With possibility of extension based on further discussions between intern and supervisor)

Stipend: $500


3. OPEN EXCESS Curatorial Intern

This internship requires the intern to assist in further research and development of an exhibition dealing with the curious history of “Southeast Asia” (as a product engendered by the Cold War). Beginning from a collection of books donated by the art historian TK Sabapathy, OPEN EXCESS (working title) is a Prep-Room project that aims to explore the politics of a library, publications and their dissemination, accessibility and visibility of the region.

Strong familiarity with the terrains of Southeast Asian studies
- Willingness to explore and engage with all facets of curatorial labour
- Good independence when it comes to research
- Creative disposition towards “theory”
- Suitable for third year students and above

Positions available: 1

Duration: 8 Dec 2014 – 9 Jan 2015

Stipend: $500


4. Museum Outreach Intern

This internship requires the intern to work with the Museum Outreach team in the preparations for the Museum’s programmes for 2015. As the Museum celebrates its 60th anniversary alongside the university’s 110th anniversary and Singapore’s 50th year, a series of special programmes are being planned. Such programmes include talks, seminars and film screenings. The intern will also assist in planning and executing marketing initiatives for the Museum’s refreshed and new galleries.


Pleasant, out-going personality
Meticulous with a keen attention for details
Good organizational and time-management skills

Duration: 8 Dec 2014 – 9 Jan 2015

Stipend: $500


5. Baba House Outreach Intern

This internship requires the intern to work with the NUS Baba House Outreach team with research on public housing in Singapore with the objective of developing walking tours. The walking tours aims to dwell into history and explore when public housing first started, 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). The intern will also assist with tour logistics and Museum and Baba House Outreach activities.


Keen interest in Singapore’s public housing history from the colonial period to the present
Good independence when it comes to research
Suitable for second year students and above

Duration: 8 Dec 2014 – 9 Jan 2015

Stipend: $500


How to Apply

Please return a copy of the internship application form with a copy of your CV and a recent essay/writing sample via email to with the subject header “NUS Museum Internship Programme” by 11 November 2014, 2359.

For more information about the NUS Museum Internship Programme, please contact Michelle Kuek at or call 6516-8428. FAQs may be found here:

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be notified. Interviews for shortlisted candidates will commence from 17-21 Nov 2014 for Positions 1-4 and from 26-28 Nov for Position 5.

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

Date: 15 October 2014, Wednesday 
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email

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


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

Free admission with registration.
To register, please email or call 6516 8817.

Ahmad Mashadi (NUS Museum)


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:

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.


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

Date: 3 October 2014, Friday
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email

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

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Exhibition | Archaeology Library: prep-room

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


Date: Sep 2014 - 16 Nov 2014
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.