Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Vanessa Teo

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. At NUS Museum, each internship is as different from the last. If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!

For the month of January, we will be publishing a special edition of Diary of an NUS Museum Intern. The museum is currently hosting 5 interns as part of Temasek Junior College's WOW! 2012 Attachment Programme where the students are given the opportunity to engage in real world situations and to provide insights or solutions. Each week, each student will take it in turns to blog about their experience and give us a little glimpse into their world.

This week, we hand the baton over to Vanessa to share their day to day challenges and their visit to the NUS Baba House. (Image: Vanessa is second from the left.)

Our second week at the museum has been an eventful one, filled with challenges as well as genuinely enjoyable moments. This week, we began working on our third and final project for this month-long attachment, a task to create a set of educational worksheets for both primary and secondary school students for an upcoming exhibition, Family Intimacies. This project made me wonder about whether visitors to the NUS Museum, whether students or the public, would be able to fully comprehend the exhibitions in just a single visit. In creating the worksheets, we were able to have access to the artist's essay, curatorial writings as well as the photographs used in the exhibition.  However, not everyone has the luxury of obtaining such items to understand an exhibition, so we had to attempt to bring across themes through our worksheets. We’re currently still in the process of doing and editing our worksheets, so hopefully when we’re done, we’ll have worksheets that will enable students to understand the exhibition better.

Juggling three projects at one same time, we often made use of the whiteboard on one wall of the meeting room from which we worked from in the office to keep track of things to accomplish at the end of the day. Ling Shan was often our scribe for taking down things we discussed and planned on the spot, as she sat in front of the whiteboard, but we took turns to write down lists of things we had to complete daily. With such a huge whiteboard to use, we did use it to doodle a little, but it was all good fun and we’re still keeping on track!

While working on our second project to create a self-guided itinerary programme for the Camping and Tramping exhibition, we encountered the challenges of figuring out the size of the final product and creating the main piece that would help guide visitors by providing information about certain display items. None of us are experts at Photoshop, so figuring out how make things work posed a problem for us. Until now, we have yet to find a way to solve the problem, but I do believe we’ll get to the solution if we continue to experiment with the available options.

Visiting the Baba House on Thursday morning for a tour of the house opened my eyes to what the Straits Chinese culture was like. Moreover, there were bits of furniture and architecture that were very representative of Chinese culture and the tour taught me things I had yet to know about the culture. The main parts of the house are well conserved, and the sights and lighting all seemed to bring me back to the 1920s. There was an alluring quality about the old pieces of furniture and stationery, even the tiles and carvings on the walls. From this, I saw the museum’s efforts in helping to preserve something valuable to our history and culture, as the people of modern times are able to step into the past by stepping into this house to learn more about the Straits Chinese.

Our week has provided us all with valuable experience that we can carry on for the rest of our life, and I have certainly enjoyed every moment spent here. With two more weeks to finish our projects, I believe we will be learning even more things that will prove to be useful to us, and would be satisfied with all we have managed to complete within the month!


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