Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Lim Hui Xian

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!

Lim Hui Xian is a final year student from the School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, majoring Photography and Digital Imaging.

The past two months spent interning at The Conservation Studio has been a fulfilling and unique experience. Other than the hands-on restoration and conditioning work done in the studio, I had the privilege to tag along with Lawrence and Claire for off-site works and visits to institutions and art museums.

One of my first few tasks was to prepare the frames and backings for the paintings that have been stabilized. There wasn’t any work that I had done directly on the paintings itself but the subsequent process to prepare the framing were as important and necessary for the art piece to be retained in good condition for the years to come.

There were some material and chemical names that I along with my fellow interns had to familiarize ourselves with. My prior studies in Fine Art when I was in Lasalle definitely helped in some ways to understand the uses of the painting materials for conservation work. But it was a challenge getting names of the chemicals together, understand the uses and its reaction with the different materials. After all, I wasn’t expecting the subject of chemistry (and maybe physics!) popping up during my time at The Conservation Studio. 

The internship got more exciting when I was assigned to work on one of the paintings from the Ng Eng Teng Collection belonging to NUS Museum. A condition report on the artwork always have to be done before any restoration work takes place. It was surreal having a piece of artwork assigned to me, and especially the restoration of the paint layer where I had the chance to in-paint on areas that needed touching up.

It was interesting when the issue of conservation ethics came up during one of the talks that was given by Lawrence for the interns and museum staffs. It triggered thoughts on the extent of what a conservator can and should do, and the perimeters of the intervention. I have not had any experience in the field of conservation prior to my internship and although it is not closely related to my current studies of photography, it has definitely widen my perspective of the arts and is an opportunity that I am very thankful for. 


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