As a university museum, NUS Museum’s mission is to actively facilitate intellectual and cultural life within and beyond the University. With a distinct focus on Asia, the Museum contributes to and facilitates the production, reception, and preservation of knowledge through collections development and curatorial practice, developing partnerships within NUS, the cultural and heritage industry, and the global knowledge community. Since 2004, the NUS Museum has been part of NUS Centre For the Arts.
The museum’s roots may be traced back to 1955 when the University Art Museum was established at the University of Malaya. Under the direction of Michael Sullivan, the museum’s first curator (1954-1960), the collection was instrumental to the teaching and study of Art History at the University. Established before Singapore’s independence, NUS Museum may be regarded as a prototypical museum institution; its historical trajectory mirroring significant periods in the history of Singapore and the University in its search to reflect Malayan or national identity within the context of its geography and inter-cultural encounters.
The Museum has over 8,000 artefacts and artworks across four collections, the South & Southeast Asian Collection, the Lee Kong Chian Collection, the Ng Eng Teng Collection and the Straits Chinese Collection, located at the NUS Baba House.
NUS Museum manages the NUS Baba House located at 157 Neil Road. One of the last surviving Straits Chinese houses in Singapore, it was launched in September 2008 after comprehensive research and restoration work done in partnership with the NUS Department of Architecture and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The house was a gift from Ms Agnes Tan to the University to encourage appreciation of and research into Straits Chinese history, identity, iconography and architecture.
Proposal for an art museum for the University of Malaya.
University of Malaya Art Museum opens. Collection instrumental in the teaching and study of Art History at the university. The University of Malaya Art Museum may be regarded as a prototypical museum institution, its historical trajectory and collection reflecting the search for a Malayan identity situated within the context of Southeast Asia, China and India. First curator: Michael Sullivan (1954 – 1960).
Major Indian Art Exhibition.
University of Malaya Art Museum closed. Collection moved to the National Museum of Singapore.
Nanyang University and Singapore University merged to form the National University of Singapore (NUS). Lee Kong Chian Museum, established in 1970, was subsequently transferred to the NUS campus.
1980s - 1990s
The University of Malaya Art Museum collection brought back from the National Museum to NUS but remained in storage.
1997 - 2000
Donation of more than 1000 works to NUS by late Singapore artist Ng Eng Teng.
NUS Museums opens reintroducing collections from the Lee Kong Chian Museum, University of Malaya Art Museum and Ng Eng Teng donation.
2006 - Present
NUS Museums renamed as NUS Museum.