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

Monday, 18 August 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Lydia Teng

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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Lydia Teng is currently a third-year student at the History department at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Lydia interned at the Museum's Outreach department where she assisted in the organisation of the Nature as Practice public symposium, research for our Malaya Black and White film screening series and guided overseas groups around the Museum.


The past 11 weeks as an NUS Museum intern has truly been an enriching experience. As an outreach intern, my job scope was diverse yet exciting at the same time. I had the opportunity to develop exhibitionary-related programmes and content for general programmes such as the Malaya Black and White film screening series and was also involved in managing and coordinating Outreach events. It was an eye opener because the internship programme not only provided me with a platform to develop organizational and planning skills, but it also gave me fresh insights on the process of how each event is meticulously planned and carried out. It was a new learning experience where I was exposed to new perspectives and gained understanding of how the Museum plans and runs its various programmes dedicated to reach out to wider communities.


One of the main highlights of my experience as an Outreach intern was the opportunity to be part of the various programs planned by the Museum. One memorable experience I had was to bring different groups of audiences into the Museum for a short guided tour. It was exciting to be able to share what I knew about the Museum with people coming from different backgrounds.  We had primary school student coming in from local schools and even college students coming in from Australia! It is heartening to see how students regardless of their age and background have so much interest to find out more about the various collections there are in the Museum.


Apart from the various tours happening in the Museum, I also had the opportunity to be involved in workshops conducted by the Museum.  One that I thoroughly enjoyed as a facilitator (and also a participant, hooray!) was the Creative Linocut Printing workshop conducted by Joseph Chiang from Monster Gallery as part of the Children’s Season Programme. It was a memorable experience because I had the chance to be exposed to the art of Linocut and understand the intricate details and effort an artist have to dedicate themselves with before the final art piece is conceived. It was also enjoyable to be able to interact with young children and their parents as they fumbled and worked together to create their very own art pieces. 


Along with the other interns, I was also involved in the opening of the exhibition entitled “When you get closer to the heart, you may find cracks….” presented by The Migrant Ecologies Project. It was truly an eye-opening experience where we got a first hand experience actually see what happens before an exhibition opens. All of us were roped in to help with the display of materials just before opening night! Albeit the small fluster we went through with putting up the materials in the beginning, it was still a valuable experience to be part of the planning and discussion process in putting the exhibition up in one way or another.



Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to develop and conduct my own research for the Malaya Black and White film screening series. As the name suggests, the Malaya Black and White films is a series of film screenings designed to present another aspect of colonial Malaya in the form of moving images. For this research, I was tasked to find films that were shot in Malaya or depicted it. I am extremely grateful for my supervisor Trina, who was very supportive and encouraging in giving me ample space to develop my own inputs and creativity into research but also provided me with numerous constructive comments along the way. Although the list of films were exhaustive, the different comments given by my supervisor allowed me to understand the myriad ways of how Colonial Malaya was portrayed and understood through the lenses of different American and local indigenous film makers.

All in all, my journey with NUS Museum was a fulfilling one in terms of the vast exposure the internship opportunity has provided me with.  And of course, internship wasn’t just all work and no play! We had the opportunity to attend a conservation workshop to learn about conservation techniques, went on a full-guided tour at the Baba House located at Neil Road, and also participated in a walking tour around Chinatown to find sites of the first photography studios that was opened in Singapore during the early days.

I am extremely thankful for my two supervisors, Michelle and Trina for both their guidance throughout the course of my internship. For providing me with ample advises and giving support whenever I had queries on any task I was working on. Of course, this internship would not have been enjoyable without my fellow interns and the kind and friendly staff at the Museum! Special thanks to Rie, Elysia, Junni, Timo, Weichang, Flora and JJ for being part of this enriching experience I had with NUS Museum.  

Monday, 11 August 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Ngauw Wei Chang

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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Ngauw Wei Chang is a fourth year History major at the National University of Singapore. Wei Chang joined us as the Baba House Outreach Intern for the summer and has in the process also become a trained docent! 


I was the Baba House Outreach Intern for 12 weeks and this internship has really been a wonderful experience for me. The past 12 weeks has been a fruitful and eventful as I was exposed to a variety of responsibilities, some of which are beyond what I had expected when I first applied for this position.


My responsibilities include researching on Peranakan culture and the history of Baba House. Once I had completed my research, I started guiding Baba House Heritage Tours. These are things that I knew I had signed up for. On top of research and guiding tours, I was lucky enough to be a part of many other events that took place when I was a part of NUS Museum. I had the chance to take part in the different Walking Tours organized by the Museum Outreach team (Railway Corridor, Picturing Colonial Singapore and Chinese Clan Houses), as well as the programmes planned for Children’s Season 2014 (Family Fun with Clay and Creative Linocut Printing).


Being given the chance to participate in all these activities helped me realize just how much time and effort is required when it comes to pre-event preparatory work. It takes a docent many weeks of careful research, going through a plethora of sources before he/she is ready to guide the Heritage Tour. Even after research has been completed, every tour that a docent guides is a learning experience, be it in terms of time management (it is never easy to limit the tour to an hour when there are so many interesting things about the house to explain!) or how best to make the tour flow fluently and naturally. Furthermore, for events such as the Walking Tours, not only do we have to liaise with our tour guides (usually academics), we (or rather, Poonam, my internship supervisor) had to go through a test-run prior to the event. The pre-event dry run ensures that the tour is not too long, and allows us to find the best locations to stop and explain different points of interest without blocking the paths of other commuters. Seeing my supervisor go through the preparation process really shows how much effort she has invested in for our activities and these are just some of the work that we had to do behind the scenes, and are usually overlooked by others.

Apart from the conceptualization of activities, it is also a challenge to ensure that we are logistically prepared for our events and activities. For instance, Poonam, had to wreck her brain over what paint to use in order to best capture the intended effect of capturing the texture of wooden blocs imprinted for our block printing activity. We also had to start packing the material needed for the Istana Art Event 2014 up to 2 weeks in advance.


Being a part of the NUS Museum for the last three months was extremely enjoyable for me and I’m really grateful for the patience and guidance that my immediate supervisors have showered me. In particular, I’m glad that Su Ling, the Head of Baba House and curator of NUS Museum gave me the opportunity to handle textiles (Nyonya embroidery) that were more than a hundred years old. Also, I’m thankful for all the help and advice that Poonam and Fadhly had provided the past 12 weeks, for giving me the room to make mistakes and to learn from them. Also, having great fellow interns (and lunchtime buddies) made sure that work was always fun and interesting.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Elysia Teh

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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Elysia Teh is a third year History major and part of the University Scholars Programme (USP), pursuing a joint degree with the National University of Singapore and Australian National University. Elysia joined the Curatorial department and was asked to focus on research for the T.K. Sabapathy Collection of Books and Artworks. 



Things that may or may not happen”

When I applied for the T.K. Sabapathy Curatorial Internship, I had a very limited idea of what curators do and, consequently, I knew I had much to learn. The description of the advertised position stipulated that I would be “work[ing] extensively through the collection donated by T.K. Sabapathy, … build[ing] towards a productive reorganisation of the materials, and engage with the potentials and implications of curating as an alternative or parallel form of (re)writing art history”. Beyond this, however, I had no particular expectations of what the three months would entail. My image of curatorship began and ended with that one scene from Ocean’s Eleven (the remake), where Julia Roberts wordlessly appraises a painting in the Bellagio’s art gallery wearing a fabulously high-collared, brocade suit. The whole thing lasts about ten seconds.


What I ended up doing for three months was vastly different. While the ongoing project of reconceptualising the T.K. Sabapathy collection remained constantly in my peripheral (metaphorical) line of sight, I was also lucky enough to be involved in the installation of two separate exhibitions, attend various workshops and symposiums, and assist in the annual Istana Art Event. I sometimes spent my days behind a desk running up a steep learning curve where curatorial theory and practice was concerned, while other times I inhabited half-built exhibition spaces, interacting with curators, artists, wardens, deliverymen and visitors. 


My internship began with working on When you get closer to the heart, you may find cracks, the latest installation in a series by the Migrant Ecologies Project that traces ‘Stories of Wood’. Immediately, I got the chance to be involved in the installation of an art exhibition at any and every level. This ranged from working with newspaper clippings in order to collate a documentary archive, to proofreading and editing exhibition essays, to examining wall text (both in terms of phrasing and positioning) and considering the gallery’s space. Following this, I also got a chance to participate in Safe Sea by collating a catalogue of maritime books on loan from Captain Frederick Francis. In this way, the internship launched me behind the scenes from the get-go, giving me a view of the research behind two separate exhibitions.


I was also fortunate enough for my internship to coincide with start of CuratingLab 2014’s curatorial intensive. This allowed me to attend some of their events, such as ‘When does an exhibition begin and end?’, a public symposium moderated by Heman Chong, Max Andrews and Mariana C├ínepa Luna. The provocative symposium prompted me to think about the somewhat intertextual nature of exhibitions. From the examples of In Search of Raffles’ Light and The Disappearance, I saw how the end of one exhibition can lead to the start of another, as well as how historical research and archives can be interwoven with art to create meaning – a particularly resonant lesson for a history major.


The internship program at NUS Museum also offered me opportunities for more structured learning, which I found to be valuable peeks into the facets of a museum that would otherwise have been invisible to a curatorial intern. We attended a Conservation Workshop held by Lawrence Chin of The Conservation Studio, who besides delighting us with UV and infra-red light-related tricks, also emphasised the ethical questions embedded within the practice of conservation itself. We were given a tour of the Baba House on Neil Road, learning about the social history of Peranakan families in 1928 Singapore. Finally, I very much enjoyed the curatorial tours generously led by NUS Museum curators Siang and Su Ling – for the exhibitions Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu’s Brief History of Malayan Art and Inherited and Salvaged: Family Portraits from the Straits Chinese Collection respectively. To hear the thoughts behind the selection and positioning of art directly from the curator allowed me to gain an insight into curatorial perspectives that may differ from that of my supervisor’s – and this spectrum of perspectives is perhaps one of the things I valued most about my time at NUS Museum.


Amidst the intensely busy itinerary offered by NUS Museum’s internship program, I often needed to remind myself of the challenging task actually at hand – to devise a curatorial or conceptual framework within which the T.K. Sabapathy collection can be re-launched in the resource gallery to come. In this, the role of my supervisor Kenneth Tay was invaluable. Kenneth brought both wisdom and possibility to this internship in the readings he pointed me to, the conversations we had regarding curatorship and the advice he shared regarding the modus operandi of NUS Museum. As a university museum, NUS Museum has, in my opinion, a great opportunity to be experimental – to tug on threads that appear interesting or pursue new lines of thought without yet knowing their outcomes. Informed by this mode of thought, I was able to explore various concepts of library in the widest horizon possible, and put some theories that I had previously only read about into practice within a curatorial context. Derrida, Benjamin, Foucault – these oft-cited thinkers do actually play an important role in lending us the ideas and vocabulary with which we can challenge creative boundaries.


Strictly speaking, this internship lasted a mere three months. In both theory and practice, however, I anticipate that I won’t quite be able to let go. The ideas of curatorship and regional art history I have learnt have not only provoked many questions, but have also influenced the way in which I approach those questions. The ongoing projects at NUS Museum continue to draw me to return, to observe and assist wherever I can. Finally, the friendships forged during this time have been wonderful. I thank my fellow interns – Junni, Timothy, Rie, Wei Chang and Lydia – as well as museum staff Flora, for enriching the experience. I also thank the other staff at NUS Museum for their friendly faces and advice, and I especially thank Michelle for her work in making the internship program truly worthwhile, and Kenneth for his words of wisdom and for bringing to my table the many opportunities I’ve had in the last three months. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Curatorial Roundtable 01 | Lines of Control: Curatorial Con-texts


Date: 7 August 2014, Thursday
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Venue: Visitors' Briefing Room, Level 1, National Library Building


To register, email museum@nus.edu.sg or call 6516-8817 / 4616.

Moderator:
Kenneth Tay (NUS Museum)

Speakers:

Charles Merewether (School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University)
Charmaine Toh (National Gallery Singapore)
Jennifer Teo & Woon Tien Wei (Post-Museum)
 

Despite the rise of the independent and transnational curator, the role of the curator is inextricably bound up in site - be it the museum, the international biennale, or the small non-profit space. To that end, how do we continue to speak about authorship in curatorial practice given that the latter continues to be influenced, changed and developed alongside the contexts curators find themselves in? As the inaugural session of the Curatorial Roundtable, this session will attempt to explore these questions while addressing also the perhaps problematic over-investment in the figure of the independent and transnational curator.

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.


About Curating Lab 2014
Curating Lab 2014 offers final year tertiary students, recent graduates and young curators exposure into contemporary curatorial perspectives and practices. Organised by NUS Museum with support from the National Arts Council, this 8- month programme will see participants embarking on a curatorial-intensive designed as a workshop, an overseas field trip, internship assignments to contemporary art spaces in Singapore, while being guided by the programme’s facilitators and their internship mentors to work towards a final exhibition project. 

Event Photos


Event video

Curatorial Roundtable 01 | Lines of Control: Curatorial Con-texts from nusmuseum on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Presenting Portraiture Series | Caricature Workshop with Caricaturist.sg

Caricature artist Adam Chua.
Photo courtesy of Caricaturist.sg
Dates: 12 & 19 July 2014
Time: 2 – 4.30pm 
Venue: NUS Baba House 
Fee: $68/pax


Limited to 20 participants. Fees include all workshop materials.
Recommended for ages 13 and above.   
To register, email museum@nus.edu.sg or call 6516-8817 / 4616.


Please make payment by 4 July upon receiving confirmation email. Registration is confirmed only upon payment of workshop fees.

In this two-day workshop, participants will have hands on practice in drawing caricatures- is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing. Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and are commonly used in editorial cartoons. It is actually quite an ancient art form and some of the earliest examples are found in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. You'll learn the basics of caricature- how to invent humorous characters, capture an expression, draw bodies for personality types and when to simplify or exaggerate. Sign up today and have lots of fun without the pressure of still-life drawing!

About the Artist
Caricaturist.sg was founded more than 20 years ago and has been providing art education services in Singapore ever since. Caricaturist.sg was founded by Adam Chua, a self -taught artist, arts educator and professional caricaturist. He is a member of the Association of Comic Artists of Singapore and the International Society of Caricature Artists. Some of clients include entertainment agencies and corporate organisations such as Allianz, Singtel, Mediacorp and Samsung among others.

Presenting Portraiture Series       
Presenting Portraiture is a series conceived in conjunction with a two-part exhibition featuring portraits of Peranakan Chinese. The first part Dressing the Baba was held at NUS Baba House till 31 July 2013, whilst the current exhibition Inherited and Salvaged: Family Portraits from the Straits Chinese Collection runs till 6 July 2014 at NUS Museum.

Peranakan portraits represent an emerging area of collecting interest and this talk series explores a range of themes, concepts and ideas surrounding the making, collecting and functions of such artworks, including artistic practice and studio processes; pictorial conventions; collecting patterns; and reflections on the social milieu.
 
Event photos

Monday, 21 July 2014

prep-room | Notes from a Concrete Island

In conjunction with Curating Lab 2014, NUS Museum has initiated the latest iteration of prep room | things that may or may not happen. Titled Notes from a Concrete Island, a series of discussions, writings and field trips will take place as part of the participants' internship with the Museum. It will also (in)form the participants' working towards the conceptualisation of CONCRETE ISLAND -- a year long programming scheduled to take place at the Museum next year.

Emerging from sessions working towards the conceptualisation of CONCRETE ISLAND, Notes from a Concrete Island will attempt to document the trajectories of thoughts and cathexes between the curator-mentor and the participants attached to the NUS Museum. Notes from a Concrete Island will take place not only within the physical space of the Museum, but also maintained an online presence in order to gather and/or solicit responses from the 'outside'.    

CONCRETE ISLAND takes as its first point of departure J.G. Ballard's 1974 novel of the same title. In it, Ballard's protagonist - Robert Maitland, a wealthy architect - finds himself suddenly 'ejected' from the highways of London and marooned on a traffic island just beneath the intersections of the highways. Perhaps a similar escape velocity is sought after here, a different 'gravity' and an other island of possibilites. This year-long programming at the NUS Museum attempts to trace the various systems and flows in Singapore's imagination of itself: the undercurrents and unconscious of Singapore as a place; its interior rumblings and indigestions; its futures and other horizons. Projects of this year-long programming include: Tan Pin Pin | A Survey (working title, January 2015), a survey of the filmmaker's practice around the notion of the 'cartographical'; The Library of Pulau Saigon | Debbie Ding (working title, April 2015), an 'archaeological' reading of the histories and found fragments of a much-forgotten island in Singapore; THREE FLATS | Lilian Chee and Looi Wan Pin (August 2015), a research project examining the physical and psychical spaces between architecture and domesticity in Singapore. The programme will also be accompanied by a reader featuring essays and pieces dealing with 'passwords' for CONCRETE ISLAND. 

Selected participants from Curating Lab 2014 include Luca Lum, Raksha Mahtani and Chua Ying Qing. To follow them and other participants from the curatorial programme, click here.
prep-room | Notes from a Concrete Island will be updated and published regularly throughout the participants' involvement with the NUS Museum. Occasionally, traces from these sessions can be found in the physical space titled prep-room at the lobby of the NUS Museum. For directions there, click here. For a prefatory remark on the significance of a space such as prep-room, read here.

The crash had jerked loose a clutter of forgotten items from beneath the seats - a half-empty tube of sun lotion, memento of a holiday he had taken at La Grande Motte with Dr Helen Fairfax, the preprint of a paper she had given at a paediatric seminar, a packet of Catherine's miniature cigars he had hidden when trying to make her give up smoking.
- J.G. Ballard, Concrete Island 
 
 
 

Kenneth Tay


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Exhibition | SAFE SEA (18 - 27 July 2014)

[Gallery impression, 'SAFE SEA' | Charles Lim, National Museum of Singapore, 2014]

Presented as part of Singapore HeritageFest 2014

Date: 18 - 27 July 2014
Time: 10am - 6pm daily
Venue: National Museum of Singapore, #01-03

CLICK TO VIEW GALLERY IMPRESSIONS

Whilst Singapore's history has been informed by its maritime ecology and the rise of an international port connected to its city, most personal stories related to the sea remain very much flushed out of the national imaginary. Seen as a trigger for more discussions through the mobilising of a collection of objects and documents centred largely on the anecdotal, SAFE SEA presents an evolving and intuitional archive composed of sea-proof vaults that facilitate and, almost unendingly, gather ephemera pertaining to Singapore's relationship with the sea. It begins with the particular story of Singapore's first and only Maritime Museum (1972-2002), which used to be on Pulau Blakang Mati (today, Sentosa), and its founding curator Eric Alfred. If you wish to know more, please approach its 'librarian'.

SAFE SEA follows Lim's solo exhibition at NUS Museum titled In Search of Raffles' Light (2013), an exhibition that tracked the myriad ways in which Singapore's maritime boundaries are constituted. This exhibtiion is curated by Shabbir Hussain Mustafa and Kenneth Tay. Co-organised by the National Museum of Singapore and NUS Museum, SAFE SEA is a programme of Singapore HeritageFest 2014. The collection of maritime books and publications is kindly loaned from Youth Skipper Flotilla.

About the artist
Charles Lim Yi Yong is Singapore's representative to the Venice Biennale in 2015, where he will present a project titled SEA STATE an ongoing body of works he has been developing since 2008. Lim's 2011 short film All The Lines Flow Out premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival, winning a Special Mention -- the first award ever won there by a Singaporean production.

Presented by: National Heritage Board
Supported by: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
Main sponsors: Tote Board & National Integration Council
In celebration of SG50

Friday, 11 July 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Timothy Lim

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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Timothy Lim will be a second-year student at Yale-NUS College. Timothy joined us as a Between Here & Nanyang Curatorial Intern, conducting further research and assembling bibliographic materials for the exhibition.



For the past 8 weeks, I was the Between Here and Nanyang Curatorial Intern at the NUS Museum. During this time, I was exposed to the thought process behind curating as well as glimpses into how the museum is run. I gained a new perspective on what the role curators play when designing exhibits.

As the Between Here and Nanyang Curatorial Intern, I worked with the curators who curated the Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu’s Brief History of Malayan Art exhibition. The exhibition is based on the art historian Marco Hsu’s book A Brief History of Malayan Art, covering everything from the pre-historic peoples that lived here all the way up to the days of merger and formation of Malaysia.  They are currently working on the upcoming refresh of the exhibit. The first thing I realized about curating was the sheer amount or resources it takes to even begin crafting the direction of an exhibition. It might have seemed pretty straightforward: the whole exhibition is about the book; you could just go through it chapter by chapter and display whatever he mentions in the book. However, the exhibition is not about explicating the book, but about opening up the seams of its message and really digging into what is being said, and even what is being left out.

My work was focused around studying the text and looking for nuances or gaps in Marco Hsu’s “brief history”, as well as looking through many contemporary texts of that era from the 1950s to the 1960s.  Marco Hsu and many of the artists and intellectuals that were his contemporaries were deeply involved in Chinese education as well, and as such the majority of the texts I work with are in Chinese. I have also just finished a Malay novel, Salina by A. Samad Said. One of the reasons that I work with vernacular texts is because one of the aims of the Marco Hsu exhibition is to add alternative voices when examining the seams of his work; during the last years of colonization, artists and intellectuals were working within their own ethnic groups and writing in vernacular, and many of the resources that are important to the project were not translated. This project was particularly interesting to me as a Malaysian, since being able to speak both Malay and Chinese helped me to easily move between the vernacular texts, and having grown up in KL, it was helpful in understanding the context of many of the authors.


Of course, being an intern does not just mean sitting in a cubicle at the back of the office all day! Mid-way through my internship, the NUS Museum’s Curating Lab programme went underway and I had the opportunity to sit in on one of their lectures by Latitudes, a curatorial team from Spain, who explained their mode of curating and the different perspectives they take depending on the briefs they are given. I also had the chance to attend a Conservation workshop, and saw the techniques and thoughts that go into conserving museum exhibits. We were also given a curated tour of the exhibitions in the museum and the NUS Baba House, allowing us to fully appreciate the work that our supervisors had put in when curating these exhibitions. I was also roped in to help with the madness of the opening of a new exhibitions, cutting and nailing down materials for the exhibitions as well as the cleaning up before opening night!




I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be able to work alongside my supervisors and fellow interns at the NUS Museum. As a Yale-NUS student, we rarely get a chance to immerse ourselves in NUS itself, so this summer has been a great way to get to know the people who work and study here. The research and readings I have done over the weeks, coupled with conversations with my supervisors and fellow interns have challenged the way I see this region, and how art can play a role in shaping the narratives of a place we all call home.  

Friday, 27 June 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Chen Junni

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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Chen Junni is going onto her third year of studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science's Communications and New Media Department. Junni joined us as a Resource Gallery Curatorial Intern, working in tandem with our curatorial and collections team to prep for the Museum's upcoming Resource Gallery and Library (to open in 2015).

For seven weeks, I was a Resource Gallery Curatorial Intern at the NUS Museum. During these seven weeks, my conceptions about working in a museum and the art of curating (it is very much an art by itself- as much as the art it serves to care for) expanded and became even more sophisticated and nuanced than before.


As a Resource Gallery Curatorial Intern, I worked with curators at the Museum. One of my first realisations was the fact that curating is very much driven by research, and that the research can begin as early as one year ahead of the exhibition opening. The Museum is, by itself, a huge mine of information- countless books and catalogues, pamphlets and binders are scattered throughout the premises, making the Museum a huge database centre by itself. The fact that the up-and-coming Resource Gallery will have a library will prove to be a useful addition to the Museum, consolidating all the materials relevant to the topics explored in the Resource Gallery and throughout the Museum. Much of my work centred around utilising much of the resources that we had - books, online databases, old newspaper clippings carefully gathered by the staff previously. Through researching, I had the chance to explore many of the histories that the NUS Museum discusses in its various galleries. I had the chance to delve deeper into the history of Chinese art and its impressive, high-class beginnings (art in Ancient China was largely the domain of the imperial and elite, until it slowly trickled down to museums and private collections), to explore Indian art and uncover the sophistication behind its design, and most importantly, to uncover the history of art in Singapore itself. One of the best research projects I had was researching the lives of pioneer and second-generation artists in Singapore and their art, and to consider the art that they produced against the backdrop of what was happening in Singapore at that point in time.


Besides research, curatorial methods were also something I explored over the course of the seven weeks in the museum. As the eight-month long Curating Lab was underway during part of my internship, I had the chance to sit in on two Curating Lab lectures, one given by Latitudes, a curatorial team from Spain, and the other by artist-curator-writer Hemen Chong. Listening to the exhibitions they had curated gave me an idea of the different curatorial strategies employed. In conversations with my own supervisor, I became exposed to the broad ideas and theories behind curating. These conversations and lectures proved to further shape my ideas about curating, the relationship between artist and curator, as well as that of the museum as an institution and the curator.

Alongside research, I also had a brush with the craziness that goes on during exhibition installations. The exhibition "When you get closer to the heart, you may find cracks..." | Stories of Wood by The Migrant Ecologies Project - opened in mid-June. In the last-minute rush to get everything prepared in time, some of us interns were roped in to help with the display of newspaper and other archive material on the walls. Seeing the curators and artist, Lucy Davis, working hard together to realise their exhibition showed us the immense amount of legwork everyone had to put in when it comes to the physical installation of the exhibition!


All in all, I was very grateful to have been surrounded by interns who worked hard and offered their support and companionship, and also for NUS Museum to have given us so many opportunities to learn many different things. Although I have only covered learning about curating, the truth is that we learnt much more. Events such as the Baba House visit and various curatorial tours gave me a glimpse into the past and art's place in our history, public memory and society. It was truly a meaningful internship.