Past Exhibitions

'Come cannibalise us, why don’t you?’ | Erika Tan

Till 4 May 2014
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Emerging from an ongoing discussion between NUS Museum curators and artist Erika Tan since 2009 about the heterogeneous potentials of the museum object, the colloquially titled ‘Come cannibalise us, why don’t you?’ is an artist-installation that re-visits and adapts artefacts and writings from the exhibition Camping and Tramping Through The Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya (2011-2013) alongside newer artworks developed by the artist that include film, sculpture and works on paper. The guiding principle being a form of aesthetic cannibalism, speculative in its method and oscillating between formats, the site-specific installation reveals the contingent rules and contextual considerations of the colonial museum in Malaya as it came to be framed in the 19th century and the particular interpretative technologies and translationary mediums that continue to murmur a discourse in the contemporary postcolonial present.

[Image: Erika Tan, Jail Museum Mirror, Digital Print, 2013, Artist Collection]


In Search of Raffles’ Light
An Art Project with Charles Lim

24 October 2013 – 27 April 2014
NUS Museum
Free Admission.

Attempting to remember histories attached to sites related to Singapore’s seas, In Search of Raffles’ Light is an interdisciplinary project guided by the Raffles Lighthouse (estd. 1854) as an evolving metaphor to chart how and where history intersects with the present. Responding to a series of correspondence which outlines the beginnings of a maritime museum in Singapore following independence from the British, this exhibition presents new works developed by Singapore artist Charles Lim, and mobilises everyday objects, museum artefacts, archival texts and maps, photographs, paintings and prints that range from the national to the personal, the archaeological to the biological, and the historical to the present. Understood in this light, the exhibition may be seen as a polyvocal attempt at illuminating the complexities between contemporary practice, museums, and their cultural artefacts.

[Image: Raffles Lighthouse, 1959, Lim Chuan Fong]


Taiping Tianguo 《太平天国》

7 September – 3 November 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission

Taiping Tianguo explores actual and concrete, as well as tenuous or even possibly non-existing connections between four artists in New York in the heady years of the 1980s and the early 1990s. While Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong are “Chinese,” they hail from different places, contexts, and lineages and are situated in wildly divergent art historical narratives and discursive matrices. The artists’ New York years have been discussed with certain degrees of mythologization, and this exhibition ventures to propose an alternative narrative to those that disregard the artists’ personal connections in favor of a city, nation-specific, or formalist history. It suggests a possibility of thinking about a casual community and network of acquaintances that brought these artists together, thus contributing to a critical reading of these early years of Chinese contemporary art prior to the era of globalized contemporary art.

Exhibition brochure


Archiving Apin
Works and Documents from the Mochtar Apin Collection

31 August – 29 September 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission

Assembling a selection of sketches, prints, and paintings, coupled by documents and materials lodged in the house of the late Mochtar Apin (1923-1994) in Bandung, Indonesia, the exhibition revisits the thoughts and practice of Apin as artist and teacher. Known as a major figure of Indonesian modern art, in particular his association to post-War developments in Bandung, Apin's journey through the colonial, revolutionary, and post-independence history of Indonesia prompt ways in locating the question of artistic agency in relation to the broader discourses of nation, identity and modernity.


106 Joo Chiat Place:
The Ng Eng Teng House

9 October 2012 to 1 September 2013

NUS Museum
Free Admission


The Ng Eng Teng House, located at 106 Joo Chiat Place was also known as ‘Studio 106’. It was not only the home of Singapore sculptor Ng Eng Teng, but was also used as his workplace until his passing in 2001. It was then turned into a residency space for artists and later acquired by a developer. Architecturally known as a panggung house, it is one of the remaining few of its kind in Singapore. This exhibition, as a laboratory that invites multiple readings and speculations, features an accumulation of objects as found and collected from the house, placed alongside archival documentation such as newspaper articles and images relating to and of the artist Ng Eng Teng.

[Image: Gallery impression, 106 Joo Chiat Place: The Ng Eng Teng House, NUS Museum, 2012]


Dressing the Baba:
Recent Donations of Portraits

5 December 2012 to 31 July 2013
NUS Baba House
Visits are by appointment only.
Please call 6227 5731 or email


This exhibition features a selection of late 19th to early 20th century portraits of individuals and couples from ethnic Chinese backgrounds who were domiciled in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As recent donations, the display surveys portraiture, its functions, and ideas it may convey. Significant to such enquiry is the projection of identities informed by gender, ethnicity and economic status, and the conventions of portrait making that facilitate such projections. Presented at NUS Baba House, previously the residence of a Peranakan Chinese family, the exhibition complements ways of encountering the cultural histories of the Straits Chinese, explored through portraits and their proposed contexts.

[Image: Gallery impression, Dressing the Baba: Recent Donations of Portraits, NUS Baba House, 2012]

Exhibition brochure


The Sufi and the Bearded Man:
Re-membering a Keramat in Contemporary Singapore

Till 28 July 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission




This exhibition re-members the keramat of a 19th century Sufi traveler from the Middle East who lives on in contemporary Singapore through her miracles and her shrine which was recently removed. Re-membering the keramat has involved a two-year long project of collaborating with Ali, an intermediary of the Sufi and custodian of the masoleum referred to by fellow devotees as "the bearded man". These conversations culminated in the keramat and its life-worlds entering a museum, a transition animated by the display of photographic evidence, material remains or artifacts, anecdotal histories and related documents. Considering alternative ways to recount and understand heritage, The Sufi and the Bearded Man, calls attention to devotional culture, lesser-heard narratives and esotericism in Singapore.

[Image credit: Nurul Huda, Singapore 2010]

Exhibition brochure


Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive:
The Museum in Malaya

Till 21 July 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission




The term Camping and Tramping is inspired by a lesser known 19th century document compiled by a British officer describing the field work and travails of his time with the colonial office in Malaya. Documents such as these, along with colonial institutions, sought to fill a void in terms of Orientalist knowledge available for a colonist or itinerant audience interested in the region. Aggregating such texts which make up the colonial archive, this exhibition traces the rise of the Museum in British Malaya not just as an indicator of power over what was gazed upon as the exotic but by acknowledging that the very advent of the Museum resulted in a staging ground for a project of accumulation and the ordering of knowledge.

Mobilizing artefacts from the Raffles Museum and Library (established 1874) and the University Art Museum, Malaya (established 1955), the exhibition offers the question of the Museum in Malaya as evolving propositions expressed through shifting concepts of colonial knowledge, its responses to emerging contingencies of colonial politics and eventual decolonisation, and changing regard for its publics and their aspirations. Collecting, documenting, ordering, preserving and displaying - functions declared and sustained - are tasks made complex by such contexts. Birth, transformation and end of institutions render collections and documents as dynamic sets of archives that are mobile and regenerative, opened to newer meanings and claims.

The exhibition is divided into the following sections:

• The Museum as Idea
• Shifts - Other and Self
• Accumulations - Object, Order, Wonder

As reminders of how individuals in the region have laid claim to the colonial archive, the gallery also sites the practices of two post-colonial figures, Mohammad Din Mohammad and Dr. Ivan Polunin. Mohammad Din was a Singapore artist, traditional healer and collector who held that his works contained talismanic potentials. Arriving in Malaya from England in 1948, Dr. Polunin taught Social Medicine at the then University of Malaya. In an adventurous career that began with the filmic documentation of tropical diseases, Dr. Polunin's ethnographies grew to encompass hundreds of hours of film footage on Malaya's eclectic sociocultural practices and its rich biodiversity.

Writings and artefacts have been mobilized from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (NUS), NUS Museum, Asian Civilizations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, National Library Board Singapore, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore National Archives, and the Ivan Polunin and Mohammad Din Mohammad collections.

[Image credit: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research Collection. Photo by Nurul Huda]


Textures, Tones & Timbres:
Art of Chong Fahcheong

1 February 2013 to 28 April 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission


This exhibition presents the recent works of sculptor Chong Fahcheong. While the artist’s public artworks are characterized by the figurative and shared social memory, this collection of recent works explores his continuing fascination for materials and their potentials. Chong's formal approach intertwines personal experiences, both concrete and intuitive, and sense of place; the compositions are informed by journeying, layered with notions of home and impermanency. It is a "process of rambling", finding ways of making sense, constantly negotiating the natural environment and urban sprawl, interacting with materials and encountering a variety of sensations and experiences. Accomplished mainly in stone and wood, and on occasions made from bronze, the works are simultaneously familiar and abstract, providing glimpses of everyday objects and communicating Chong’s reflections on life.

[Image: Chong Fahcheong, Dune Seat, 2011, Marble, 175 x 132 x 45cm]

Exhibition brochure


Your Voice Is Mine

19 January 2013 to 21 April 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission


As a form of cultural production that communicates gestures and values, Your Voice Is Mine is propositioned as an agent for raising dialogue, exploring narratives and channeling alternate positions. Lodged between artist, curator and locale of the Museum, it may also be experienced as an attempt at examining these processes within the premise of ‘transcultural collaboration’ – a concept that is experiencing renewed impetus in contemporary art circles since the 1990s. Here, communication rests at the heart of things, where the very act of transmission may be considered something that contributes to the positioning and controlling of the audience in a given space, at times ephemerally highlighting the difficulty and collusion of translation, at other times understood as a literal attempt at realizing context(s) external to the Museum.

Your Voice is Mine features works by artists Makiko Koie, Fuyuki Yamakawa, Shun Sasa, Takayuki Yamamoto, SHIMURAbros (Yuka and Kentaro) and Motohiro Tomii, created through their encounter and research on Singapore’s social and cultural histories. It is presented at the Lee Kong Chian Gallery of the NUS Museum, a space that features the Chinese Art Collection from the Lee Kong Chian Museum, supplemented by ceramics from the South and Southeast Asian Collection and the archaeological collection of Dr. John Miksic.

It is the final installation of the OMNILOGUE series of exhibitions that began in 2010 and is part of The Japan Foundation’s initiative to foster curatorial exchanges between Japanese artists and curators with collaborators from the Asia Pacific region. Your Voice is Mine is preceded by Alternating Currents (PICA, Perth, 2011) and Journey To The West (Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2012).

[Image: Makiko Koie, From the series G, Kr-1, 2008, C print mounted on Plexiglas, 73 x 100cm, Artist Collection]

Exhibition brochure


Curating Lab: Phase 3

18 January 2013 to 3 February 2013
Goodman Arts Centre

Opening Hours
Weekdays 4pm - 8pm
Weekends 12pm - 8pm

For more info, please click here/.


Curating Lab: Phase 03 consists of three exhibitions presented by the participants of the Curating Lab 2012 programme. Beginning with a curatorial-intensive designed as a workshop, followed by internship assignments and a regional field trip, participants were guided by facilitators and mentors in the preceding phases, working towards the presentation of this final exhibition project. Curating Lab: Phase 03 draws attention to histories and the artifactual, their relationships and disjunctions, and the curatorial mediations that condition their production and consumption; to prompt provisional readings and trajectories of inquiries.


Semblance / Presence:
Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr.

29 June 2012 to 13 January 2013
NX Gallery, NUS Museum
Free Admission


Combining Jose Rizal's "Quiapo Fair" (first published 1891) and artworks produced by artists Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr., the exhibition traces the life-worlds of Plaza Miranda, which fronts the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), one of the main churches of the City of Manila. Considering how Plaza Miranda acts as a site for numerous interests, ranging from political and cultural discourse to established traditions of fortune telling, the exhibition connects both artists and their materials to not just as something being observed, but also to the conditions of their observations, where the very act of observation becomes an end that at once implicates but also detaches. By some oblique process, presence also becomes semblance, leading to question, if any act of observation can ever remain unmediated.

[Image: Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Mga Hinirang (Chosen People), film still, 2012.]


Rupal Shah | Tautology of Memory

23 April 2012 to 6 January 2013
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Tautology of Memory is a single channel video shot by artist Rupal Shah at the archaeological site of Ajanta in Western India.* The display is mediated through the multiplicity of voices that define an archaeological site, including the echoes of the tour-guide focusing on the murals and frescoes, constantly alluding to and reifying popular perceptions; the artist partializes this reification by employing her child's exploration of the caves.

Simultaneously, curatorial interventions first engage with colonial India's foremost architectural historian, James Fergusson's publication Rock-Cut Temples of India, a detailed and systematic documentation of Ajanta containing the photographs by another nineteenth century military-surveyor Robert Gill; and second with a 1927 newspaper report which applauds a decade-long documentation project undertaken by an art school student, Syed Ahmad at Ajanta.

Evoking ironies, paradoxes and humour which descend on history and its sites, acutely choreographed between text, fragment and aesthetic, juxtapositions made playful with comments on colonial and postcolonial mappings of archaeological heritage, one is compelled to ask, does Ajanta lend itself for official surveys, archaeological scholarship, artistic projects or the heritage-making industry? What remains asserted, what has been reclaimed?

[Image: Gallery impression, Rupal Shah | Tautology of Memory, NUS Museum, 2012]


Capturing the Straits
Painting and Postcard Views from the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

9 February 2012 to 31 October 2012
NUS Baba House

Visits are by appointment only.
Visitors are required to sign up in advance for heritage tours which fall on Mondays 2pm - 3pm,
Tuesdays 6.30pm - 7.30pm, Thursdays 10am - 11am & Saturdays 11am - 12pm.

For enquiries, please visit here, call [65] 6227 5731
or email


This exhibition brings together paintings of the Straits Settlements by Charles Dyce who was a resident of Singapore in the 1840s, and postcard views of Malacca dating to the early half of the 20th century. As visual sources, they collectively provide a window into the production and reception of landscapes in colonial Malaya, underpinned by new encounters, negotiations with pictorial conventions, and evolving regard of Malaya as a transformative space.

Presented at the NUS Baba House, a residential unit built and actively inhabited in the colonial period, the exhibition also provides glimpses into the nature of urban transformations in the Straits Settlements.

[Image: Charles Dyce, The River from Monkey Bridge, 1842- 1843. Watercolour & Ink on paper]


PRINTS prep-room

8 February 2012 to 30 June 2012
NUS Museum
Free Admission


A space exploring the woodblock print medium as the subject and material for production, dissemination and consumption; Reproduction of prints by Choo Keng Kwang, Foo Chee San, Koeh Sia Yong, Lim Mu Hue, See Cheen Tee, Shui Tit Sing and Tan Tee Chee are made available for teaching and learning.

Click here to download the worksheets for Primary school.

Click here to download the worksheets for Secondary school.


Shared Heritage: "As We See It"
A Travelling Exhibition

11 May 2012 to 13 June 2012
NX Gallery, NUS Museum
Free Admission


"Shared Heritage: As We See It" is an exhibition on ideas, stories, and images relating to cultural heritage. Borne out of a workshop that comprised students from both Asia and Europe, the theme of cultural heritage is explored and presented through visuals, interspersed with textual elements drawn from their discussions on the theme.

In presenting on the theme of cultural heritage, we encounter its varying elements through ideas, stories, images, and the sensorial, invented in unique ways across the multi-varied cultural and historical landscapes. The result is an exhibition that invites the viewer to engage with shared heritage as seen by the participants themselves.

This exhibition is organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation and NUS Museum.


Family Intimacies

Till 8 April 2012
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Family Intimacies by photographers Anderson & Low is a visual documentation of Edwin Low's global family. While the project serves as a tribute to the Low family, it brings into light the different themes of memory, place, and identity.

Using photography as the main medium of discourse, this exhibition introduces not just ritualistic and site-specific content – portraits of family members in respective homes; places in China; ethnographic images of a funeral procession – but also displays the process of 'unpacking' the family as a concept – its stories, memory, archival photos – and how this alludes to larger themes of memory and history-making.

Family Intimacies also mirrors our understanding and thus consumption of how we begin to view our own family trees. In mapping out the Low family tree, this exhibition features the personal and the conceptual facets of what make up the idea of 'family', both in the present and in the remembering.


Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection

Till 4 Mar 2012
NUS Museum
Free Admission





Ng Eng Teng (1934 – 2001) was a painter and potter by training but is most recognised for his sculptural pieces featuring humanist themes. A beneficiary of the artist's generous donations, NUS Museum has over 1,000 of Ng's works including sketches, paintings, maquettes, sculptures, figurines and pottery. An archival display-cum-exhibition, the presentation is divided into three sections – The Formative Years, Body/Form/Perspectives, Materials/Processes/Public Works – exploring a range of biographical, stylistic and thematic interests. The presentation surveys the breadth and depth of Ng's oeuvre and encourages further research and dialogue on the artist, his productions and facets of the era in which he lived and worked.

[Image: Ng Eng Teng, Acrobat, 1988, Ciment fondu, paint]

Click here for the exhibition brochure in PDF format.


Writing Power: Zulkifli Yusoff

Till 19 Feb 2012
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Regarded as a pioneer of installation art in Malaysia, Zulkifli Yusoff's Writing Power looks at how historical texts affect cultural memory and understandings of nationhood. Exploring how history can be made relevant to contemporary times, Zulkifili's artistic renditions draw upon the fascinating and complex relationship between the visual and the written - leading his audiences to ponder, if it matters not-knowing what art means, who made it, when, what's it called, or how to approach it?

Writing Power is held as a companion to the ongoing exhibition Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya, which explores the rise of the museum and themes on the archives in British Malaya from the 19th century onwards and how contemporary practitioners may lay claim to it.

[Image: Zulkifili Yusoff, Pelayaran Munsyi Abdullah (detail), 2003, Mixed Media. Aliya and Farouk Khan Collection]


Calendars 2020-2096

Till 12 Feb 2012
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Calendars (2020-2096) comprises of 1,001 images of deserted public interiors in Singapore photographed over a span of 7 years (2004-2010). It signals specific concerns of Heman Chong's practice, one that can be located in the intersection between time, space and situation. The 'archive' of images, set within the premise of how one marks time, generates an imaginary meandering within the interiors of Singapore, a city that is constantly being remade, often appropriating signs and styles from a wide spectrum of influences. Based on a series of revisitations to the public spaces that Chong has a prior relationship to - shopping centers, museums, MRT stations, schools - the artist carefully frames the spaces without attempting to add any new meaning to the space. No permission was requested for any of the photographs captured, nor any prior arrangement was made to have it devoid of people. Thus, the photographs veer less towards the staged, but rather can be seen as ready-mades. Yet this appropriation very quickly transmutes into another creature: one of fiction and narrative. The project can be viewed in its entirety as a novel about interior spaces, as well as, a historical (also a kind of imaginary fiction) document of interior spaces.


Working the Tropical Garden

Till 6 Nov 2011
NUS Museum
Free Admission


Asian Symphony, Ng Eng Teng's largest known public mural measuring 1.8 x 9 m, was commissioned for the Garden Hotel in 1971. Conceived in an era when Singapore was beginning to emphasise environmental planning as the key to sustainable development, the mural is an idealised expression of man's synergistic relationship with nature. It was recently donated to the NUS Museum and is now installed at National University Health System building at Kent Ridge.

This exhibition brings together working sketches and a maquette which were part of Ng's preparatory work for the mural, as well as other materials which elucidate the artist's articulation and treatment of the figure. The displays complement the Museum's permanent exhibition Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection, allowing a survey of key thematic and formal interests which the artist had explored since the 1960s.

[Image: Ng Eng Teng, Asian Symphony (detail), 1971, Ciment Fondu]

Click here for the exhibition brochure in PDF format.