I am honoured and delighted to welcome you to the Patron of Heritage Awards 2019. This year, we honour 88 patrons, who have contributed about $8.67 million to heritage causes in 2019. Your continued generosity enabled the heritage sector to present world-class exhibitions, organise well-loved festivals, introduce engaging public programmes and launch insightful publications, among many other initiatives. Your invaluable contributions were vital to our continued efforts to maintain our cultural heritage, ensuring that what we have inherited from the past will continue to become a lasting legacy for future generations.
2019 was indeed a celebratory year as we commemorated Singapore’s bicentennial. The National Museum of Singapore marked this significant milestone with an exhibition, An Old New World: From the East Indies to the Founding of Singapore, 1600s–1819, which showcased two centuries of international exploration, trade and intrigue that culminated in the founding of Singapore in 1819, while the Asian Civilisations Museum demystified Raffles and offered rich insights into Singapore’s past and its connections to the region during his era, with the Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman exhibition.
Our heritage institutions – the Indian Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall – also put up bicentennial-focused exhibitions. Together, they revealed previously unfamiliar facets of Tamil heritage through the over-800-year journey of the Tamil diaspora in Singapore and the region; showcased Singapore’s place in regional history before the British and Dutch occupation of the Malay Archipelago, and spotlighted the role of the Chinese community in helping photography studios in pre-war Singapore flourish.
Special exhibitions such as Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture and Living with Ink: The Collection of Dr Tan Tzse Chor and Packaging Matters: Singapore’s Food Packaging Story from the Early 20th Century also generated significant media and public interest.
Besides presenting top-notch exhibitions, we also strive to constantly engage the community by curating exciting programmes and events suitable for all demographics – both within our institutions and in the heartlands – via interactive tours, heritage trails, language campaigns, roving art installations and performances.
Our festivals such as the Singapore Night Festival and Singapore Heritage Festival continue to intrigue even non-regular museum-goers with stunning light projections, entertaining street performances and immersive experiences which also serve to highlight lesser-known facets of Singapore.
We not only focused on presenting exciting exhibitions and programmes to the local community and inbound tourists, but also looked outwards. We collaborated with international partners to showcase our collections overseas in China and London, and brought them in for conferences and research projects to facilitate the exchange of knowledge.
We could not have achieved all this without your strong support, our donors and patrons. Every contribution, whether in cash or in kind, through artefacts or services, has made a tremendous impact on our collective efforts to safeguard our heritage for the future.
2020 has been a challenging year thus far, but we promise to remain steadfast in our efforts to realise our mission of preserving and celebrating the shared heritage of the diverse communities in Singapore. In doing so, we also aim to inspire Singaporeans as we work together to overcome the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic. I look forward to your continued support as we journey onwards.
Ms Yeo Chee Yan
National Heritage Board