Monday, 18 August 2014

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Lydia Teng

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!

For Summer 2014, we have 6 undergraduate interns working with the curatorial and outreach teams, conducting research into the Museum's collections as we prepare for our upcoming Resource Gallery, the new T.K. Sabapathy Collection of books and artworks, the archaeological sherd collection housed in the Sherd Library as well as conceptualising and running Outreach events at the Baba House and the NUS Museum.


Lydia Teng is currently a third-year student at the History department at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Lydia interned at the Museum's Outreach department where she assisted in the organisation of the Nature as Practice public symposium, research for our Malaya Black and White film screening series and guided overseas groups around the Museum.

The past 11 weeks as an NUS Museum intern has truly been an enriching experience. As an outreach intern, my job scope was diverse yet exciting at the same time. I had the opportunity to develop exhibitionary-related programmes and content for general programmes such as the Malaya Black and White film screening series and was also involved in managing and coordinating Outreach events. It was an eye opener because the internship programme not only provided me with a platform to develop organizational and planning skills, but it also gave me fresh insights on the process of how each event is meticulously planned and carried out. It was a new learning experience where I was exposed to new perspectives and gained understanding of how the Museum plans and runs its various programmes dedicated to reach out to wider communities.

One of the main highlights of my experience as an Outreach intern was the opportunity to be part of the various programs planned by the Museum. One memorable experience I had was to bring different groups of audiences into the Museum for a short guided tour. It was exciting to be able to share what I knew about the Museum with people coming from different backgrounds.  We had primary school student coming in from local schools and even college students coming in from Australia! It is heartening to see how students regardless of their age and background have so much interest to find out more about the various collections there are in the Museum.

Apart from the various tours happening in the Museum, I also had the opportunity to be involved in workshops conducted by the Museum.  One that I thoroughly enjoyed as a facilitator (and also a participant, hooray!) was the Creative Linocut Printing workshop conducted by Joseph Chiang from Monster Gallery as part of the Children’s Season Programme. It was a memorable experience because I had the chance to be exposed to the art of Linocut and understand the intricate details and effort an artist have to dedicate themselves with before the final art piece is conceived. It was also enjoyable to be able to interact with young children and their parents as they fumbled and worked together to create their very own art pieces. 

Along with the other interns, I was also involved in the opening of the exhibition entitled “When you get closer to the heart, you may find cracks….” presented by The Migrant Ecologies Project. It was truly an eye-opening experience where we got a first hand experience actually see what happens before an exhibition opens. All of us were roped in to help with the display of materials just before opening night! Albeit the small fluster we went through with putting up the materials in the beginning, it was still a valuable experience to be part of the planning and discussion process in putting the exhibition up in one way or another.

Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to develop and conduct my own research for the Malaya Black and White film screening series. As the name suggests, the Malaya Black and White films is a series of film screenings designed to present another aspect of colonial Malaya in the form of moving images. For this research, I was tasked to find films that were shot in Malaya or depicted it. I am extremely grateful for my supervisor Trina, who was very supportive and encouraging in giving me ample space to develop my own inputs and creativity into research but also provided me with numerous constructive comments along the way. Although the list of films were exhaustive, the different comments given by my supervisor allowed me to understand the myriad ways of how Colonial Malaya was portrayed and understood through the lenses of different American and local indigenous film makers.

All in all, my journey with NUS Museum was a fulfilling one in terms of the vast exposure the internship opportunity has provided me with.  And of course, internship wasn’t just all work and no play! We had the opportunity to attend a conservation workshop to learn about conservation techniques, went on a full-guided tour at the Baba House located at Neil Road, and also participated in a walking tour around Chinatown to find sites of the first photography studios that was opened in Singapore during the early days.

I am extremely thankful for my two supervisors, Michelle and Trina for both their guidance throughout the course of my internship. For providing me with ample advises and giving support whenever I had queries on any task I was working on. Of course, this internship would not have been enjoyable without my fellow interns and the kind and friendly staff at the Museum! Special thanks to Rie, Elysia, Junni, Timo, Weichang, Flora and JJ for being part of this enriching experience I had with NUS Museum.  

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