Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Show Ying Ruo

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. If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

For the summer of 2013, we have a total of 9 interns at the museum! Each intern will be taking it in turns to contribute an article to the Museum Blog every other week. For daily (or even hourly!) sneak peeks at what they are doing, visit the Museum's Twitter account (@nusmuseum). 


Show Ying Ruo is currrently pursuing a Ph.D at the Department of Chinese Studies, NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Ying Ruo is a Lee Kong Chian Chinese Collection intern, researching on the contents of the collection and assisting in exhibition research for the museum's upcoming exhibition Between Here & Nanyang: Marco Hsu's Brief History of Malayan Art. 

It has been a delightful experience working as an intern at NUS MUSEUM! A museum-goer myself, I love to explore the city’s past by visiting their museums. The highlight when I was studying in London were my frequent visits to the British Museum as my school SOAS was adjacent to it. Additionally, I took a course from the Archaeology department in UCL and the lecturer brought us to museum quite often. It opened up my curiosity in observing material goods. Similarly, I enjoyed every bit of NUS Museum, its unique characteristic and interesting collections about Singapore.

As a Chinese major, I found the Lee Kong Chian Collection located at the museum's lobby floor extremely interesting. First of all, I was surprised to know that the predecessor of the gallery was actually the Lee Kong Chian Heritage Centre of the Nanyang University. It was first established in the year 1970 and housed a variety of local art and objects. Not to mention the poignant and forgotten history of Nanyang University, the Lee Kong Chian Collection occupied an unusual position in understanding Singapore's art history.

I was tasked to research on Chinese Paintings for the upcoming exhibition Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu’s Brief History of Malayan Art. The exhibition aims to showcase Marco’s perspectives on local art, and how they reflected an understanding of identity and nation building at times towards a merged Malaya. From famous painters Xu Beihong and Liu Haisu, local precursors Liu Kang, Wu Tsai Yen, Chen Jen Hao, See Hiang Tuo, Lim Hak Tai and so on, the paintings revealed information that tells more than merely artistic appreciation. My supervisor Yueh Siang enlightened me in many ways in the understanding of those painting. I was asked to read the calligraphy inscriptions in the paintings, identify and decipher them, and then translate into English. I have to say it was a challenging but inspiring job that I enjoyed very much. Although at some times I needed to refer to a couple of dictionaries to reconfirm a word or flip through dozen books with calligraphy scripts to try my luck on a possible word, my interest was not dampened in the least. I enjoyed reading different inscriptions in order to know the hidden information, when was it painted, donated or presented as a gift? What was the gallery that held the painting? What were the painters’ viewpoint on Chinese art?

It has been a fruitful experience working in NUS Museum. I look forward to the upcoming Marco Hsu’s exhibition, and hope that all visitors will be pleased with our work. 


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