Monday, 8 May 2017

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Cheyanne Gan

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! 

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Cheyanne is currently a JC1 student at Temasek Junior college. She joined the NUS Museum for three weeks as part of Temasek Junior College’s Work Attachment Programme. As our NUS Baba House Intern, Cheyanne was tasked to carry out research on various artefacts in the house and was also involved  its daily operations and logistics matters.


These 3 weeks of internship with NUS Museum have definitely been fulfilling. Through the numerous museum visits, I managed to learn more about museum operations and logistics. Being stationed at NUS Baba House, I was able to experience fully the life of one working at a house museum. At the same time I also learnt so many things about Peranakan culture! I learnt how unique Peranakan culture is, as an example of how a community, Chinese in this case, came to adapt to its environment without losing its identity. Now I understand how closely linked history and culture are. I have also realised the importance of local culture, of not just the Peranakans, but also the cultures of the different ethnic and religious groups present in Singapore.

As I was doing research for the different historical artefacts in the house, I realised that each artefact placed in this house has so much historical value as well as cultural meaning behind it. Each artefact tells a story on its own. A kind of story that your grandmother and grandfather would tell you. After going through the artefacts in detail and analysing the house as a whole, I now understand how important it is to make the correct decisions when a conserved house is concerned; how every artefact makes a difference, and every decision has its consequences. Curators must always keep in mind their purpose as well as the identity of the house.

As I communicated with the visitors, I could tell they were very interested in the house. Many were eager to visit the house. I know the staff at the Baba House also feel a deep sense of pride and attachment towards this house. For this blue house along Neil Road reflects more than 10 years of their hard work, from conducting tests to find out the original colour of the house to experimenting to decide which lime plaster works best for the walls. The amount of effort put into conserving and running this house reflects the passion and love the staff as well as the NUS students have for Peranakan heritage. For this house is not merely a house filled with old furniture. It is a house which contains many stories of the people who used to live here. It is a house which we will entrust to the next generation to look after.

I do not regret taking up this internship, because it has taught me things I cannot learn anywhere else. After such an experience, I am able to better appreciate the historical sites we still have in Singapore today. Thank you NUS Museum for such a privilege, and special thanks to the staff of Baba House, namely Fadhly and Poonam, for their patience and guidance throughout this internship.



Exhibitions at the Lee Kong Chian Gallery


Me standing in the front courtyard of the house. Sadly this is the only photo I have of Baba House because we can only take photos outside the house.

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