Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Liang Siyi

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. Working alongside their mentors, our interns have waded through tons of historical research, assisted in curatorial work, pitched in during exhibition installations and organised outreach events! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information! 

In January 2015, three JC 1 students, Dana Gan,  Kim Soh Won and Liang Siyi, interned with us for a month as part of Temasek Junior College's Wonder. Observe. Weave! (WOW!) Attachment Programme. Across their four-week attachment, they were tasked to do research and craft educational activities for the primary level based on our new Sherd Library.
Four weeks of internship came to an end much more quickly than any of us had expected. In retrospect, the whole month of WOW! Attachment in NUS Museum has definitely been a meaningful and memorable experience. Throughout the attachment, we worked as a team to draft a proposal for school activities in the museum mainly and also went on several intriguing learning tours to places beyond the NUS Museum to broaden our vision. During our time here, there were a large number of relevant archives and documents provided by our mentor for us to read and hence gain a better understanding on the history behind the artefacts. The research tasks daily might have been tedious and energy-consuming at times, but were actually very helpful in providing us a clear view of the connections among the numerous artefacts of different backgrounds and gave legitimacy to the museum activities we proposed. 

Before I came for this internship programme, my understanding of a museum was rather limited and consequently I was enlightened when I learnt about the projects we were assigned to for this month – to think of all the possible ways for young school students to interact with seemingly static museum exhibitions. This was so much of a freeform challenge that we were able to let our imagination and creativity run free but eventually we came up with the objectives of interaction and comprehension. My team mates and I started by doing extensive research on the targeted artifacts and gathered a large amount of information. Later, we consolidated our findings and tried to obtain some inspiration for the activities. 

One of the final outcomes of our work was an activity named “Complete the World Trade Route”. The activity was basically about interpreting the different trade routes which terminated at Singapore all around the world during the 15th to 19th centuries (the period when most of the ceramics pieces in the Sherd Library were manufactured). First off, we provided detailed descriptions of some selected sherds with very typical characteristics and hoped that the students could from there make reasonable deductions towards the possible origins of the artifacts. We believe that this form of activity can be more appealing to young students than giving them a dull and monotonous presentation of the history of the sherds. We hope that all of these activities will be appreciated by the students who travel to this museum and look forward to a unique and memorable experience.

Besides the main project we spent most of our time on, the learning journeys to NUS Baba House and National Museum also made up a great part of our unforgettable learning experience. In the third week of the attachment, we were given the opportunity to join a guided tour in the NUS Baba House, a heritage house owned by a traditional Peranakan family in the past. Our first impression of the exquisite blue-coloured housing was its splendid carved motifs and decorations covering every single corner of the house which seemingly had a kind of magic to take us on a flashback to those good old days. Our guide was a graceful and cultivated lady who was familiar with every single piece of history about the house and presented them in a smooth and appropriate pace so much so that everyone were fully immersed in the charm of the stories.

For the second trip, we went to the National Museum of Singapore to visit the ongoing exhibition “Singapura: 700 Hundred Years”. The exhibition introduced a number of historical sites in Singapore such as Old Parliament House, Empress Place and Istana Kampong Glam with detailed illustration. We are very lucky to encounter this exhibition at the right time since a great number of artefacts were excavated from these sites in Singapore and many of them were currently displayed in NUS Museum as well. 

All in all, this full month of internship in NUS has been a truly enlightening experience which has exposed me to various aspects in life and caused me to appreciate all of the roles of and hard work by the museum staff to keep the museum in well maintenance. I would like to thank our mentor Ms Michelle Kuek for her patience and kindness in guiding us throughout the whole internship month as well as all the other staff in the museum whose selfless help made up our most memorable moments in NUS.


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