"Giving does not only precede receiving; it is the reason for it. It is in giving that we receive." - Israelmore Ayivor
The National Heritage Board celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – what a milestone! 2006 was the year the Patron of Heritage Awards was introduced. Then, there was already the Patron of the Arts Awards, but with the museum and heritage sector growing from strength to strength, a dedicated awards scheme was mooted to recognise and honour our very own heritage benefactors. My heartfelt thanks to all who have, over the past three decades, contributed to the transformation of our museums and heritage scene, making it the vibrant ecosystem it is today. We would not be where we are today without each and every one you, so thank you.
Giving in All Forms
This year, the Patron of Heritage Awards continues to recognise generous and meaningful contributions to the safeguarding and promotion of Singapore’s heritage. It is my honour to express our appreciation to the 64 donors awarded this year, who contributed about $17.73 million to heritage causes in 2022.
Such gifts come in various forms, but collectively contribute to the continued enjoyment and appreciation of our rich and diverse heritage. These include artefacts that enrich the National Collection, as well as cash, resources and in-kind sponsorships that enable us to invest in heritage outreach and education, infrastructural improvements as well as programming, research and capability development.
With your support, we have kept our museums and heritage institutions fresh and relevant such as with the recent reopening of the Peranakan Museum and launch of Children’s Museum Singapore – the first museum in Singapore dedicated to children. In particular, Children’s Museum Singapore received a donation from the Stephen Riady Foundation, which supported its educational offerings to spark curiosity and a love for learning in our young ones, while allowing families to create memories together.
We have also deepened our engagement with the community through offerings such as the well-loved Singapore HeritageFest which celebrated its 20th edition this year, and extended our reach to new audiences, all while ensuring our programmes remain accessible and inclusive
Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. Beyond traditional and historical artefacts that tell the Singapore story, contributions of contemporary objects and stories also enrich the documentation and sharing of our nation’s milestones in recent history. They provide varied perspectives to our heritage, enabling us to broaden our narrative and stay relevant, especially to younger Singaporeans. One noteworthy contribution is the Singapore Airlines’ donation of its first-generation Business Class and Suites cabin seats from its Airbus A380 aircraft to the National Museum of Singapore, a testament to the success story of our national carrier. The Suites cabin seat is on display at the Museum’s ongoing exhibition titled Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s–2000s.
The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the proud recipient of another extraordinary gift, comprising 160 contemporary fashion creations by one of Singapore’s most prolific fashion designers, Andrew Gn. Most were included in the recently concluded exhibition Andrew Gn: Fashioning Singapore and the World, which explored Gn’s roots in Asia, cross-cultural expressions of Asian and Western art and global impact. The donation is part of Singapore’s design collection launched this year, in which ACM will focus on contemporary fashion, furniture and jewellery.
It is also heartening to see novel ways of giving. A first-of-its-kind gift acknowledged this year is the generous donation of a historic townhouse by the Portabella family to the National University of Singapore, which now serves as a centre for research and training in architectural heritage conservation and management.
Such examples show that all of us can give to heritage in our own ways. NHB works with a family of passionate volunteers from various groups and walks of life to extend the reach of our many heritage offerings. We greatly value their contributions of time and effort to enriching the museum and heritage experience, making them even more enjoyable for many Singaporeans.
In the same vein, we recognise the key role that the community and our partners have played in our heritage journey, such as through the co-creating of exhibitions, programmes and festivals. As part of the Kampong Gelam Citizen Engagement Project, we worked with volunteers from all walks of life to uncover the stories behind heritage businesses and how they have contributed to Kampong Gelam’s unique and distinct character.
Our Journey Continues
This year, we invite you to join us in embarking on a new chapter of growth with Our SG Heritage Plan 2.0 that builds on the achievements of the first heritage masterplan. Under the Plan, work to steer the museum and heritage sector towards becoming more dynamic, inclusive, and future-oriented continues, while fostering greater pride in our heritage and identity as Singaporeans.
Indeed, our cultural legacy is a shared endeavour, bolstered by the active involvement and collective efforts of everyone. As we journey on together with your enduring support, let us work towards forging a future where our heritage is celebrated, cherished and co-created by all.
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan
National Heritage Board