History of the National Museum of Singapore
History of the National Museum of Singapore, 2017
Yip Yew Chong (b. 1969)
Commissioned by the National Museum of Singapore
This mural was painted over four days in a style inspired by the 19th-century landscape paintings held by the National Museum of Singapore (NMS), and presents the Museum’s rich history and collection.
The Museum’s origins as the Raffles Library and Museum are depicted at the bottom – the Singapore Library that began on 22 January 1845 in the Singapore Institution (now Raffles Institution), the Temenggong of Johor’s donation of two gold coins in 1849 which marked the start of the museum’s collection, and the Library and Museum’s move to the Town Hall (now Victoria Theatre) before insufficient space led them back to the Singapore Institution in 1876.
A selection of the Museum’s collection is featured in the middle tier of the mural. The tiger is reminiscent of the Museum’s zoological collection, which included a stuffed Malayan tiger that was displayed in the Museum’s rotunda in the early 1900s. The landscape is a partial reproduction of Singapore from Mount Wallich (1856, painted by Percy Carpenter), which the Museum acquired in the 1950s when it incorporated an art gallery in its spaces. Animals from the Museum’s prized William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings can also be found in this mural: the Malayan Tapir and Lesser Mousedeer are caught “trespassing” on Mount Wallich, while a scaly-breasted Munia and a pair of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters are perched on the tree branches above the Museum building.
Visit the Singapore History Gallery (Level 1) to see the actual painting by Percy Carpenter, and the Desire and Danger exhibition in the Goh Seng Choo Gallery and Story of the Forest to learn more about the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.