HistoriaSG Lecture
HistoriaSG Lecture

Stay tuned for upcoming HistoriaSG programmes!

PAST

Curation in a Time of Pandemic: Behind the Scenes of Home, Truly and Picturing The Pandemic *Livestreamed*

Thursday, 20 May 2021 | 7.30pm

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Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at of two special exhibitions presented at the National Museum – Home, Truly: Growing Up With Singapore, 1950s to the Present and Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of COVID in Singapore.

Both exhibitions were put together in 2020, a year where COVID-19 swept the world and affected every aspect of our lives. What were the challenges faced by the curators of the two exhibitions, and how did they adapt to, innovate for and (re)create museum experiences in a time of pandemic?

Find out more in this special dialogue session that brings together curators from the two exhibitions in conversation. This programme is held in conjunction with the exhibitions Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present and Picturing the Pandemic: A Visual Record of Covid-19 in Singapore’. 



 

Behind Memoirs of a Flying Tiger – Dialogue with World War Two Pilot and Veteran Captain Ho Weng Toh

20 Feb 2021 | 2pm – 3pm | Gallery Theatre, Basement Level 

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Captain Ho Weng Toh, currently 101 years old and one of the last remaining Flying Tigers, has lived a vibrant life, from growing up in Ipoh and studying in Hong Kong, to becoming a Chinese Air Force B-25 bomber pilot during World War Two, and finally, settling down in Singapore to train an entire generation of local pilots for Singapore International Airlines (SIA). 

In 2019, Captain Ho documented his experiences as a bomber pilot and the trials and hardships of the war years in Memoirs of a Flying Tiger.

Join us for a dialogue with Captain Ho at the National Museum of Singapore, where he and co-writer Jonathan Y. H. Sim will share more about the writing of his memoirs and discuss his experiences during the war.

This programme is conducted in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021. Limited spaces are available for the on-site session – please visit hsg-flyingtigers.peatix.com for registration. $5 per pax includes light refreshments (to be consumed after the programme or brought home). A concurrent livestream of the programme will also be available free of charge on the National Museum Facebook page.

 

 

2020 Lecture 1

9 Jan 2020, 7.30pm

BANTEN, THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM

Lim Chen Sian

Associate Fellow at the Archaeology Unit, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

  

On 23 June 1596, four battered ships of the first Dutch trading fleet under Cornelis de Houtman anchored off the sprawling capital of Bantam (Banten). Avoiding Portuguese strongholds and patrols and having lost more than half of the crew to disease and privations, they had journeyed 14 months before the vessels arrived at the legendary kingdom of pepper and rice. 17th-century Banten was the master of West Java, Sunda Strait and Lampung, southern Sumatra. It was an emporium to the archipelago and beyond, supplying rice to Portuguese-occupied Melaka and its famed pepper to the courts of India and China. The wealthy sultanate was also a nexus of religious learning, attracting Islamic scholars from the boundaries of the Indian Ocean.

  

At its height, the kingdom was one of the largest settlements within insular Southeast Asia. Its cosmopolitan population included Japanese mercenaries, Portuguese man-of-arms, and Gujarati trader-sailors. Merchandise from Europe, China, Japan, Indian Ocean and the archipelago were found throughout Banten’s many markets. It was at Banten where the English established their first East India Company factory in the Far East. However, within a century of the arrival of the Dutch, the sultanate devolved into a client state of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company), eventually dissolving and becoming extinct in 1830. Today, only ruins such as Fort Speelwijk and Surosowan Palace remain, attesting to the city’s once noble and neglected past.

 

Join archaeologist Lim Chen Sian as he explores the rise and fall of the forgotten kingdom of Banten in this fascinating talk.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 1

BANTEN, THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM

Lim Chen Sian
Associate Fellow at the Archaeology Unit, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

Download Transcript
 

2020 Lecture 2

16 Jan 2020, 7.30pm

IMAGINING THE EAST INDIES

Daniel Tham

Curatorial Lead, National Museum of Singapore

  

The idea of the “East Indies” was a largely European construct, shaped by the European exploration of and commercial interest in Southeast Asia. This gave rise to the charting and imaging of the region and its peoples, with the resulting images of the East Indies disseminated and popularised through print. This talk explores some of the artwork currently on display in the special exhibition An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600s−1819, and demonstrates how these images reveal, more than anything, the European imagination of the East Indies.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 2

IMAGINING THE EAST INDIES

Daniel Tham
Curatorial Lead, National Museum of Singapore

Download Transcript
 

2020 Lecture 3

13 Feb 2020, 7.30pm

IN SERVICE OF JOHN COMPANY: LIFE IN THE ENGLISH EAST INDIA COMPANY IN ASIA (c1800s)

Dr Donna Brunero

Senior Lecturer, Department of History, National University of Singapore

  

By 1800, the English East India Company (EIC) was already a formidable presence in India, with factories stretching throughout Southeast Asia. Trade routes were relatively well known, and so too, the profits that some private trade could yield. What then, was it like to work for the EIC? What could one expect on a voyage out to Asia? How did factory life operate and why were some postings more desired than others? How were factory gossip and reports on the lives of EIC servants important in shaping careers and fortunes?

  

By asking such questions and examining sources from the EIC, including artefacts from the National Museum of Singapore’s An Old New World Bicentennial exhibition, Dr Donna Brunero explores a deeper understanding of the EIC and the lure (and sometimes trials and tribulations) of a career in Asia.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 3

IN SERVICE OF JOHN COMPANY: LIFE IN THE ENGLISH EAST INDIA COMPANY IN ASIA

Dr Donna Brunero
Senior Lecturer, Department of History, National University of Singapore

Download Transcript

 

2020 Lecture 4

5 Mar 2020, 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE & SINGAPORE, 1900−1975

Dr Emily Soon

Research Fellow, National Museum of Singapore

  

What role did Shakespeare play in 20th-century Singapore? How did individuals from Singapore’s diverse ethnic communities respond to, and rework, the plays of this English Renaissance playwright? Beyond the classroom, how did students and teachers creatively adapt Shakespeare’s texts to better resonate with life in this tropical city? This talk explores the Shakespearean threads within Singapore’s multicultural history, tracing how people in Singapore engaged with Shakespeare as the island transitioned from being a British colony to an independent Southeast Asian state.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 4

SHAKESPEARE & SINGAPORE, 1900−1975

Dr Emily Soon
Research Fellow, National Museum of Singapore

Download Transcript

 

2020 Lecture 5

29 Jul 2020, 7.30pm

RECOVERING THE COMPLEX LEGACIES OF KAMPONG MELAKA AND KAMPONG BENGKULU: TWO FORGOTTEN NEIGHBOURHOODS OF EARLY COMMUNITIES

Imran bin Tajudeen
Visiting Senior Fellow, Department of Malay Studies, NUS

The urban wards named Kampong Melaka and Kampung Bengkulu appear in several maps of colonial Singapore. How did these two neighbourhoods of early communities develop when they were not reflected in the Raffles Town Plan (the "Jackson Plan") of November/December 1822? In this talk, Dr Imran Tajudeen will discuss what actually developed in colonial Singapore within and beyond the colonial grid of representation and, through the micro-histories of Kampong Melaka and Kampong Bengkulu, reconsider the conventional narratives and framing of the colonial city, particularly our present assumptions about the "Jackson Plan".

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Image: Plan showing alteration and addition to compound house at 239 Bencoolen Street, later renumbered as 81 Bencoolen Street, 1926. Courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.

 

 

2020 Lecture 6

8 Aug 2020, 4.15pm

SONGS OF SINGAPORE

Bernard Tan
Emeritus Professor of Physics, National University of Singapore

Moderated by Eugene Dairianathan, Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, NTU

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the National Day songs sung at the National Day Parade each year, or catchy community tunes like “Singapore Town” or “Chan Mali Chan”? Many of the national songs we know and love today were especially commissioned and compiled in the 1980s for Singaporeans to sing together at communal and national events. Join us for this special edition of HistoriaSG with our speaker Professor Bernard Tan and moderator Eugene Dairianathan. Professor Bernard Tan, who sat in the early Sing Singapore committee, will share more about the challenges of creating and promoting original national music in the years after Singapore’s independence, as well as the development of National Day songs over the years.

HistoriaSG

Image: Sing Singapore song book, 1988. Collection of the National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board

This lecture was presented as a livestream as part of the museum's National Day Celebrations in 2020.

 

2020 Lecture 7

28 Sep 2020, 7.30pm 

75 YEARS ON: REFLECTIONS ON WORLD WAR TWO COMMEMORATION IN SINGAPORE

Hamzah Muzaini
Assistant Professor, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, NUS

Presented in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surrender during World War Two, Dr Hamzah Muzaini will share about the evolving ways in which the global conflict has been commemorated in Singapore since its independence in 1965. He will then explore some of the issues and challenges of war commemoration that have emerged in the country over the years, as well as how these reveal our heterogenous and shifting attitudes towards the conflict, and how the conflict is remembered in Singapore today.

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Image: Civilian War Memorial, 1970s. Collection of the National Museum of Singapore

 

2019 Lecture 1

22 Feb 2019, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

THE COMFORT WOMEN OF SINGAPORE DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION: A DARK HERITAGE TRAIL

Kevin Blackburn
Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, NTU

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945, the Japanese military sexually enslaved hundreds of mainly Korean – but also Chinese, Indonesian and Malay – women in what were called “comfort stations” dotted across Singapore. Japanese women were also brought to Singapore as “hostesses” or prostitutes for high-ranking officers. The last-known living survivor of this mass sexual enslavement in Singapore is Kim Bok Dong, aged 93, who lives in Seoul. She most likely worked at a comfort station on Sentosa. Other sites of comfort stations include buildings still standing at Cairnhill Road, Jalan Jurong Kechil, Tanjong Katong Road and Teo Hong Road in Chinatown.

Memories of the experiences of comfort women in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation illustrate the contradictions in remembering women’s experiences during war as transnational history.In this lecture, Prof Kevin Blackburn discusses the comfort women of Singapore in both history and memory, and offers insight into what has come to be called “dark heritage” sites of human suffering.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 1

THE COMFORT WOMEN OF SINGAPORE DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION: A DARK HERITAGE TRAIL

Kevin Blackburn
Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, NTU

Download Transcript

 

2019 Lecture 2

18 May 2019, 2pm – 3pm

A TALE OF THOMASES AND TAPIRS: EARLY NATURAL HISTORY IN SINGAPORE AND NEARBY LANDS

Martyn E. Y. Low
Research Associate, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Three Thomases – Hardwicke, Horsfield and Raffles – have arguably made the earliest contributionsto natural history in Singapore. Directly or indirectly, they have been responsible for introducing thefirst mammals, birds, plants, reptiles and fishes from Singapore to the West. But beyond just“collecting” species and specimens, how did these three men, and others like them, contribute to thelarger understanding of nature and natural history in Singapore and beyond?

The story of the Malayan Tapir offers a “cheat sheet” to the development of this rich natural historythat began long before any of the Thomases stepped ashore in Singapore. This riveting tale involvesan emperor, eunuchs, a fleet of treasure ships, four Frenchmen, a Dutchman with a Chinese name,an English civil servant, and of course, several tapirs.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 2

A TALE OF THOMASES AND TAPIRS: EARLY NATURAL HISTORY IN SINGAPORE AND NEARBY LANDS

Martyn E. Y. Low
Research Associate, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Download Transcript

 

2019 Lecture 3

27 Jul 2019, 2pm – 3pm

MAKING OF SINGAPORE CHRONICLES: GETTING HISTORY DONE

Arun Mahizhnan
Special Research Adviser, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, Singapore Chronicles is a 50-volume series that records, explains and offers insights into what makes Singapore, Singapore. Written by subject experts from the public sector, academia and journalism, the books trace the nation’s evolution on a wide variety of fronts, from governance to the economy, from food and sports to the CPF and our flora and fauna. In this lecture, Singapore Chronicles series editor Arun Mahizhnan shares more about the project – why it was conceived, for whom is it intended and what will it lead to.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 3

MAKING OF SINGAPORE CHRONICLES: GETTING HISTORY DONE

Arun Mahizhnan
Special Research Adviser, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Download Transcript

 

2019 Lecture 4

28 Jul 2019, 4pm – 5pm

ENTERPRISE: THE ARMENIANS OF SINGAPORE

Dr Nadia Wright
Historian and author of The Armenians of Singapore: A Short History

Singapore is largely a nation of immigrants. This bicentennial year seems an apt time to acknowledge the significant contributions made to its development by one of its smallest minorities: the Armenians. Conspicuous in Singapore from 1820, individual Armenians have made their mark in the civic, social and economic life of Singapore. Two of Singapore’s national treasures – St Gregory’s Church and Raffles Hotel – as well as Singapore’s national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, and its national newspaper, The Straits Times, owe their origin to this tiny but enterprising community. In this illustrated talk, Australian-based author and historian Dr Nadia Wright will discuss the dynamics of the Armenian community, its origin and achievements.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 4

ENTERPRISE: THE ARMENIANS OF SINGAPORE

Dr Nadia Wright
Historian and author of The Armenians of Singapore: A Short History

Download Transcript

 

2019 Lecture 5

17 Aug 2019, 2.30pm – 3.30pm

WILL PRAGMATISIM UNDERMINE SINGAPORE’S NATIONAL IDENTITY?

Prof Kenneth Paul Tan
Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

The Singapore model of development and governance has often been described and celebrated as pragmatic. In this talk, Professor Kenneth Paul Tan will discuss the ways in which the Singaporean nation-building project has been served by pragmatism, how it can be undermined by a debased form of pragmatism, and what dystopian futures we might expect if that happens.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 5

WILL PRAGMATISIM UNDERMINE SINGAPORE’S NATIONAL IDENTITY?

Prof Kenneth Paul Tan
Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Download Transcript

2019 Lecture 6

14 Sep 2019, 2.30pm – 3.30pm

FAR FROM EXTINCT? A HISTORY OF THE “MILO DINOSAUR” IN SINGAPORE

Dr Geoffrey Pakiam
Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

What can a malted milk beverage tell us about a nation’s history? We can learn a surprising amount about popular notions of belonging, childhood, well-being and pleasure from the rise of Singapore’s most iconic malted drink, Milo, and the now-commonplace “Milo Dinosaur” beverage.
Today’s heritage food offerings are often portrayed as having charted a path from humble domestic beginnings to large outward-looking enterprises. In contrast, the Milo Dinosaur has its origins in the localisation of a multinational beverage brand, involving consumers and cooks from all walks of life.
Join historian Geoffrey Pakiam as he recounts the earth-shaking drink’s unusual popularity, and asks whether it should be considered part of Singapore’s heritage landscape.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 6

FAR FROM EXTINCT? A HISTORY OF THE “MILO DINOSAUR” IN SINGAPORE

Dr Geoffrey Pakiam
Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

Download Transcript


2019 Lecture 7

25 Oct 2019, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

SINGAPORE’S ROLE IN THE SILK ROAD OF THE SEA

Professor John Miksic
Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

Singapore is a small country, but it plays a big role in Malay history. It was significant and sophisticated enough that China sent a mission here in 1320. Singapore reciprocated by sending a mission to China in 1325. The Malay Annals chose to depict Singapore as the first great Malay trading port. This is not true, but ancient Singapore made a strong impression on later Malay writers. This talk will discuss Singapore’s position as a small node in a great network of ports in the 14th century, and highlight aspects of Singapore’s modern identity which were already established during that period.

About the speaker

John N. Miksic received his PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He spent four years in Malaysia and nine years in Indonesia. In 1987 he moved to the National University of Singapore. He founded the Archaeology Unit at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He has received a Special Recognition Award and the Pingat Bakti Setia long service award from the government of Singapore, and the title of Kanjeng Raden Harya Temenggung from the Susuhunan (hereditary ruler) of Surakarta, Indonesia. His book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea won the inaugural Singapore History Prize for best book in 2018.

 

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 7

SINGAPORE’S ROLE IN THE SILK ROAD OF THE SEA

Professor John Miksic
Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore



Family Time

Visit our permanent galleries with your little ones and play spot-the-artefact! Our colourful Early Learning Resources introduce pre-schoolers to our artefacts according to the themes of Numbers, Colours, and ABCs. Available at $8 per set from the Museum Label shop. For more children's activity booklets, click here.

Museum guide

Download our museum guide (English, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil) to find out about the many treasures in our various galleries. In this guide, you will also find the floor plan for easier navigation. Enjoy your visit!

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