Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Alissa Mei Abuy
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!
As part of our December 2013 cohort of interns, we welcomed two students, Natalie Pek and Alissa Mei Abuy from Jurong Junior College for a two-week attachment. Here's Alissa to share about her experience.
I did not know what to expect when I signed up for this internship; all I knew was that I was signing up for some sort of museum thingy. To be honest, I was not expecting to get the internship at all, as there were only 3 slots available. However, despite that, getting the internship was one of my most rewarding experiences thus far.
Throughout the 2 weeks at NUS Museum, I was exposed to many different thought-provoking exhibitions and tours. For instance, the conservation tour was interesting as it showed that there is truly more than meets the eye. This is because there may be some modifications done to the original art piece, and this may actually obscure what the artist actually meant to portray. That said, we also looked at some paintings where certain details have been deliberately obscured or modified by the original artist, and it is interesting to note how the artist may have changed his mind when he was working on the painting.
I was also able to do some hands-on work in the form of cataloguing the many books donated by T.K. Sabapathy in the Prep Room. Cataloguing was a very lengthy and time-consuming process, and this gave me an idea of what curatorial work was like. It is not only about deciding how to bring across the message or themes to the visitors using the relevant material, but also knowing what resources are available, and how best to utilise these resources, as well as other legwork like organising all the information about the materials into one place.
Besides that, Natalie, my classmate and fellow intern, and I were also tasked to organise a travelling exhibition to our school, Jurong Junior College based on what we had learnt about Ng Eng Teng, a renowned Singaporean artist. During the planning stage, we had to take into consideration many different variables such as how we were going to showcase the display boards and how to make sure that the boards were not stolen or vandalised. One of the alternatives that we thought of to this showcase was to have a talk during one of the Hall Civics period. Hence, we had to come up with an outline of what we were going to be presenting and consequently, prepare a presentation and script.
The prolonged stay at the NUS campus also allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the area as we were able to visit the different canteens located around campus. Moreover, I was also able to learn more about the courses offered at university level from other interns who are currently studying at NUS. I think the highlight of the internship was not only being able to have greater exposure to art and museums, but also to be able to meet these many different people.