Archaeologists digging up the past at Singapore Art Museum

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via The New Paper, 05 April 2018:

Now, five archaeologists are looking to shed more light on the area’s history through a three-week archaeology investigation at SAM .

The team has started digging six 2m by 1m excavation pits – three in the front lawn and three more in SAM’s courtyards. Actual excavation work will start on Saturday.

The excavations, a partnership between the National Heritage Board (NHB) and SAM, are being carried out by the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), Archaeology Unit at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute.

Source: Archaeologists digging up the past at Singapore Art Museum

Archaeology-related activities to feature at Singapore Heritage Festival

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via Channel NewsAsia, 3 April 2018:

SINGAPORE: History fans can soon visit excavation pits at the Singapore Art Museum’s (SAM) front lawn as the museum undergoes an archaeological investigation. The investigation, which is free for public viewing, is also part of the Singapore Heritage Festival, which begins on Friday (Apr 6).  The dig at the former St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) building – a gazetted National Monument – on Bras Basah Road will seek to determine the archaeological significance of SAM as a historical site, the museum said in a media release.  “The investigation is especially important, as the site is located right outside the walls of ancient Temasek,” said SAM.  It may also reveal more about the histories and usage of the site, which prior to the construction of the building in 1855, was where the earliest Roman Catholic chapel in Singapore was located, it added.  Conducted by the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Archaeology Unit and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, an exhibition will also be held to detail the process of conducting archaeology. The archaeological digs event during the festival will be held on Apr 6-8, Apr 11-15 and Apr 18-22.  SAM added that the archaeological investigation will also ascertain if any further steps are necessary before its S$90 million revamp. SCDA Architects was appointed to manage the project after an open tender for the redevelopment of SAM buildings was called last September. This is the first time the contemporary art museum – which has a strong focus on works from Asia – will be undergoing a major revamp since its opening in 1996. The annual Singapore Heritage Festival will also include theatrical tours that explore the SAM building, meet-and-greet sessions with archaeologists and talks on Singapore’s history.  Recent archaeological excavation sites in Singapore include the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, which yielded artefacts weighing about 2,500kg.  At Pulau Ubin, attempts are also underway to discover more historical artefacts, with the first in-depth archaeological surveys on the island.

Source: Archaeology-related activities to feature at Singapore Heritage Festival

Singapore Museums collections online

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In conjunction with this year’s International Museum Day, the National Heritage Board of Singapore have launched SGCool, an online repository of the collections stored in the National Museum of Singapore, the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.


Digitising museums’ collections is a great step forward in making the material cultures featured in the museums more accessible to the public. For now, the collections in SGCool are divided into categories like “bronze, “photographs” and “gold”. Clicking on any artefact gives you a close-up picture, along with their provenance.

However, I was disappointed that I didn’t actually learn anything from the artefacts I was looking at. I was quite horrified to see bronze Dong Son drums labelled as “Drums. 180-100 BCE. North Vietnam.”. Besides the name of the item, the approximate age and its provenance, there was nothing else to tell me about the exhibits, such as their context and their uses, or even the cultures that made. If there’s one thing that SGCool has to improve on, it’s to provide more details about the exhibits in their collections. One good example of an online museum collection with great accompanying information is the Compass collection at the British Museum.

Like my archaeology lecturers used to tell me: objects without contexts are useless!