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.