Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Ryan Ng

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. Besides working hard and fast in their cubicles, our interns have travelled to Bandung and Malacca, organised symposiums, waded through tons of historical research and pitched in during exhibition installations. It was definitely no ordinary internship for them! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

For our second diary entry from our interns working at the Conservation Studio, we have Ryan Ng, an Arts Management student from LASALLE College of the Arts, to share with us his experience of working in a conservation lab.

During the three weeks of my internship at the Conservation Studio, I must say that I have gained many new insights on how things work in the studio.

I chanced upon the idea of conservation in art because of my lecturer, Lawrence, who taught me for one of my modules in Lasalle. Through him, I became interested to find out more about conservation in art as I had no prior knowledge in this area.

Working in the conservation studio has made me realize that preserving a piece of painting is not a simple task. There are many aspects to look into and factors to consider. For instance, fading of the colour pigments in a painting would occur when ultraviolet light is present. Humidity is also another factor that would affect the paintings.  And conservation of art not only comprises of paintings, but also sculptures.

I managed to understand all these concepts from all the lectures and practical work that we undertook daily. I found it really interesting to discover all the different tools and mediums used in conservation. Sometimes, working on artworks can be really exhausting. Long hours are required to be spent on each piece because every work is different. For each individual artwork, we first had to identify the problem, be it fading or paint crack, or even a tear in the artwork. From there, we would then rectify the problem accordingly. All these, are some of the repair/cleaning works that we do in the studio.

All in all, I personally feel that despite the short span of three weeks in the studio, it has been a real eye opener to me. Before stepping into this, my initial idea of museums was just for the mere appreciation of art. I never knew that appreciation required so much effort from the people behind the scenes. From now on, whenever I step into a museum, I wouldn’t just look at an art piece impassively, but stop and take time to have a closer look on the conservation efforts that has been put in as well. I feel that I’m really fortunate to be able to take on this internship as a chance like this is hard to come by. I hope that many others will be able to know about conservation and look at art from a different perspective.


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