NUS Museum Exhibitions
From the Ashes
Reviving Myanmar Celadon Ceramics
9 February - 30 December 2017
Archaeology Library, NUS Museum
From the Ashes: Reviving Myanmar Celadon Ceramics introduces the ash glazed wares produced by Myanmar potters in the 15th century and the current attempts to revive and develop this tradition. Archaeological investigations in Lower Myanmar in the 1990s revealed historical kiln complexes specialised in making greenware (celadon). Identical wares uncovered on 15th century shipwrecks in Southeast Asian waters and at land sites in the Persian Gulf suggest that Myanmar celadon was commercially distributed.
These discoveries have prompted the Myanmar Ceramic Society to introduce the technique of ash glazing to invigorate the contemporary pottery industry for which unglazed earthenware is the primary product. The current experiments include a compound known as borax to lower the melting point of the glaze, resulting in ash glaze pottery which can be fired at a lower temperature. The new wares are named 'celabon', derived from 'celadon', which inspired the development, and 'borax'.
[Image: Detail of Head of a high ranking official, greenware, 8.2 x 4.9 x 5.2 cm. Collection of Myanmar Ceramic Society]
The Making of a Non-Myth
Till mid-July 2017
Resource Gallery, NUS Museum
This prep-room project presents simultaneous research and practices by conservator Kate Pocklington and artist Lucy Davis on the crocodile in Singapore. Activated by the conservation of the century old specimen for exhibition in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, the heuristic and scientific research has expanded to uncover the animal’s eclipsed history. By virtue of the Straits’ ambivalent relations with the crocodile, the materials on display reckon with its population and circulation in habitat and encounters, folklore, colonial enterprise, industry and violence. Running parallel to this natural history research is a revisit of Lucy Davis’s artistic interpretation of the components of this particular crocodile framed within her bigger “Migrant Ecologies Project” that unpacks readings through which we view and study animals and the natural world.
[Image: Detail of plaster crocodile by Kate Pocklington. Gallery impression by Geraldine Kang for NUS Museum.]
Till July 2017
NX3, NUS Museum
Crater Studios is a prep-room programme of Zurich-based artist collective U5. The premise of their studio work in NX3 is to create portraits of 17 Javanese volcanoes out of the materials gathered in the broader ETH-Zurich Future Cities Laboratory Singapore research project “Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A Case Study on the Explorer Franz Junghuhn”. Following Junghuhn’s footsteps, these 17 volcanoes form territorial markers that interweave historical and contemporary narratives of Indonesia. U5 works in various media with an agenda to challenge traditional notions of individual authorship. The work originates from a fascination with material— forming model-like structures by combining found and assembled objects; constructing exuberant architectural installations that oscillate between natural and artificial; overlaying these with constantly evolving video works, live-stream images, sound and performance — that together produce a dynamic, layered experience.
[Image: Still from U5's film, Dynamic Normal Activity. Image courtesy of artist.]
Abridged Conversations About Art
South & Southeast Asian Gallery, NUS Museum
Radio Malaya: Abridged Conversations About Art follows an earlier project Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu's Brief History of Malayan Art (2013 - 2016) and continues to proceed with ways in which the University's permanent collection may be read in relation to writings on art and cultural history. It examines lines of inquiries that are predicated by various practices, institution-making, scholarship and nation.
As a backdrop to the evolving discussion on Malayan culture which Hsu was part of, the exhibition introduces selected writings by T.K. Sabapathy and S. Rajaratnam, the former pertains to Southeast Asian art historiography, and the latter a call for a cultural history that forms part of a shaping of community and nation. These frames provide ways to consider the Museum's collection whose collecting histories may be associated with Malaya's period of formation, and the evolving project of art history.
[Image: Gallery impression by Geraldine Kang for NUS Museum.]
The Later Style of Lim Tze Peng
25 Nov 2016 - 27 May 2017
Lee Kong Chian Gallery, NUS Museum
At 96 years old, Lim Tze Peng's career has seen him practising and experimenting with Chinese ink and brush. From his practice of calligraphy and using a fine brush technique to sketch open air drawings of landscapes and scenery, the artist in his later and more recent experiments arrived at the monumental, abstracted calligraphy and paintings he has come to be known for.
The exhibition focuses on recent developments and works in the artist’s practice. Drawing from a recent donation of Lim Tze Peng’s works to NUS Museum, generously supported by loans from the Lim Tze Peng Art Gallery at Chung Cheng High School, and other private collections, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s progression from landscape paintings in his earlier years, to this turn towards the abstract and the monumental in his application of calligraphic lines undertaken in the later part of his artistic journey.
[Image: Lim Tze Peng, Trees (2014), Ink and water on paper, 192 x 490cm. Gift of Linda Neo in honour of Lim Tze Peng.]
"There are too many episodes of people coming here..."
26 October 2016 - 1 July 2017
NX1, NUS Museum
This exhibition builds on the previous exhibition's interest towards the textuality of exhibitions, bringing in materials by artists Charles Lim, Dennis Tan and Zai Kuning as a means to rewrite and open up newer points of departure. Each work or project may be considered in its own right and contexts, or may be read simultaneously as episodic units of meaning. This inclusion of newer materials by the aforementioned artists generates a new complexity for the exhibition, but at the same time points to the very conditions of the exhibitionary medium.
The exhibition title is based on the words of Wak Ali, a custodian of a Muslim shrine that once stood on the banks of the Kallang River. It is at once an affirmation and a lament about the potentials of a site that may transform the individual regard, and the very contingency of positions on immediate experiences and commitments. An exhibition can only harbour meanings that are provisional and conditional, if it is to be an active site for a public with an active agency. Is this our purpose? If so, what of methods and practice?
"Who wants to remember a war?"
War Drawings and Posters from the Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran Collection
Ng Eng Teng Gallery
Till 24 June 2017
This exhibition of art works produced during the period of the Indochinese and Vietnam Wars (1945 – 1975) draws from the one of the largest privately held collections of the genre. The collection, which is on a long-term loan to NUS Museum, also includes depictions of Vietnam’s cross-border conflicts with Cambodia and China (1976 – 1986). The works were collected by Dato’ N. Parameswaran during his appointment as Ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam, stationed in Hanoi, between 1990 – 1993. These were the middle years of Doi Moi, the period of Vietnamese economic reforms begun in 1986 that aimed at bringing about socialist market liberalisation.
[Image: Detail from Tran Mai, Doi Moi Going Forward (1991), Printed poster on paper, 78 x 54.5 cm, Collection of Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran. Used by permission of Dato’ N. Parameswaran. All rights reserved.]
War Drawings and Posters from the Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran Collection
Till July 2017
Even with the advent of photographic technique and equipment, drawing has always been an important method of recording, conveying events and ideas. The drawn line is a powerful tool of communication: on the one hand, it is a device the artist relies on to direct the sight and thoughts of the viewer to his objective. Yet it can also impart glimpses into the artist’s creative imagination, even in a time of belligerence.
[Image: Detail from Van Da, Untitled (Study for Producing and Fighting, Ba Dinh Printing Enterprise, Awarded First Class Flag of Thanh Hoa Town; circa 1-6-65), Pencil on paper, 27 x 29 cm. Collection of Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran. Used with permission of Dato’ N. Parameswaran. All rights reserved.]
Chinese Ink Works from Lee Kong Chian Collection of Chinese Art
Lee Kong Chian Gallery
The Chinese ink works in NUS Museum’s collection uses works from the Qing Dynasty as a starting point to introduce viewers to the general history of Chinese ink traditions. The display invites the viewer to look beyond the form to explore the evolution of Chinese ink in Chinese art history, as well as its development outside the mainland, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, through paintings made by Singaporean artists, from the Nanyang Style to the contemporary. The current display also highlights the pioneering achievements of Singaporean artists in their innovation of a longstanding art form.
[Image: Lim Tze Peng, Colour Calligraphy: Tranquil Heart, c. 2000, 106 x 106cm, Gift of Linda Neo in honour of Lim Tze Peng.]
Ng Eng Teng: 1+1=1
Ng Eng Teng Gallery, NUS Museum
This exhibition takes, as its point of departure, the "geometric" series 1+1=1 produced by artist Ng Eng Teng as a means to re-read the artist's practice. 1+1=1 has not received, as yet, critical attention in the existing literature, with past efforts by art historians and curators focused on a reading of Ng's practice through the changing figure or figurations of the body. Presented with excerpts from a conversation between the artist Ng Eng Teng and art historian Constance Sheares, this exhibition is an attempt to prompt a reading of Ng Eng Teng through the motifs of spacing, difference and one-ness.
[Image Credit: Ng Eng Teng, untitled sketch, date unknown.]
Functioning as an open-storage, the Resource Gallery provides an encounter with the NUS Museum’s collections and their histories. Objects are organized to accommodate material categories, area classifications, as well as contingencies of collecting and its strategies, having their roots in the shifting curatorial positions and museum practice since the mid-1950s: with the formation of the University of Malaya Art Museum in 1955; and at the Nanyang University, the Lee Kong Chian Art Museum in 1969; in each occasion contingent to questions of its day.
Focus and methods across these periods evolve or differ, but if continuity is to be seen within the broader motif of “…the dignity that comes with cultural independence”, how do we begin to productively and contemporaneously invest into the interplay between objects and their material agency, predicaments of collection, and potential points of entry; and as such to invite and sustain trajectories both enduring and inflected.
Preserve/Conserve/Restore: Studies at 157 Neil Road
NUS Baba House, 157 Neil Road
Preserve/Conserve/Restore: Studies at 157 Neil Road is an initiative which seeks to tap the under explored potential of 157 Neil Road as an asset for engaging with the disciplines of urban development and technical conservation of built heritage.
Three studies are presented to kick start the project – Archaeology, Architectural Paint Analysis and Land Development. The project is envisaged to span a period of three years, during which students, researchers and industry professionals are invited to propose ways of engaging with 157. In Preserve/Conserve/Restore, the gallery is repurposed as a laboratory in which a few studies run simultaneously. Materials presented may include field notes, test results, illustrations, images and artefacts. It is a workspace in a constant state of flux as materials are added or modified as fresh data is revealed from each investigation.
Chinese Art Collection from the Lee Kong Chian Museum
Lee Kong Chian Gallery
The Lee Kong Chian gallery features the Chinese Art Collection and Export Ceramics from the Lee Kong Chian Museum. The permanent display is supplemented by ceramics from from the South and Southeast Asian Collections and the archaeological collection of Dr John Miksic. These exhibits are complemented by temporary exhibitions, conceived to engage the permanent collection critically.
The Chinese Art collection consists of bronzes, ceramics and paintings, gathered to represent the expansive history of Chinese art. The nucleus of this collection was established and developed at the Nanyang University in the 1970s with significant expansion in the 1980s under the newly inaugurated National University of Singapore (NUS).
This permanent display of Chinese Art focuses on Chinese ceramics and its development, categorising objects in relation to centres of productions and periods. A selection from the collection is featured in Collecting Histories, presented within the main gallery in open-storage format alongside ceramics collected by the then University of Malaya and University of Singapore. Collecting Histories comprises Southeast Asian and Chinese ceramics sourced from the region and mostly acquired between 1955 and 1973 - a period significant in the development of Southeast Asian art and ceramics as a field of study - led by the scholarship and research of the successive curators of the University of Malaya Art Museum, Michael Sullivan (1955-1960) and William Willetts (1963-1973). The third permanent component to the gallery is the Sherd Library, which presents a selection of archaeological materials from the collection of Dr. John Miksic, a living accumulation of an archive developed through his extensive work across the region since the late 1970s.
[Image: Gallery impression, Ways of Seeing Chinese Art, NUS Museum, 2012]
NUS Baba House
157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883
Visits are by appointment only.
Visitors are required to sign up in advance for heritage tours
which fall on Mondays 2pm - 3pm,
Tuesdays 6.30pm - 7.30pm, Thursdays 10am - 11am & Saturdays 11am - 12pm.
For enquiries, please visit
call  6227 5731
Baba House is a heritage house which facilitates research and learning about the Peranakan community and its evolution. It exhibits the community’s material culture in a domestic context, providing the unique experience of visiting a Straits Chinese family home dating back to the early 20th century. The Baba House aims to promote a wider appreciation of the Peranakan identity, history and culture, as well as architectural traditions and conservation efforts in Singapore. The Gallery on the third floor hosts temporary exhibitions featuring various Peranakan themes.