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Renewal of the Photography Gallery at the National Museum of Singapore

From late September 2010, visitors to the Singapore Living Galleries – Photography at the National Museum of Singapore can look forward to two new additions to the Museum’s permanent gallery – a photo-wall of family and individual portraits provided by customers of Standard Chartered Bank and from the National Museum collection, and five selected film cameras donated by veteran cameraman Willie Phua, which are accompanied by 41 of his career photographs.

“The photography gallery reconstructs Singapore’s social landscape through individual and family portraits. The National Museum of Singapore is glad to present the Standard Chartered Bank photo-wall, which fits aptly with the gallery’s objective of operating at the intersection between personal memory and social history. We are also honoured to receive Willie Phua’s donation of his camera equipment and photos taken through historic periods and news events in the 1960s, local and international alike. These additions to the gallery will offer visitors a different perspective of Singapore’s
social fabric through personal artefacts of the donors,” said Ms Lee Chor Lin, director of the National Museum of Singapore.

The Standard Chartered Bank Photo Display
With a recent sponsorship from Standard Chartered Bank, a new display has been made possible in the Photography gallery. As part of the bank’s brand promise, Here for Good, the photo display pays tribute to ordinary families and philanthropists alike, who had contributed to the growth and development of Singapore and Malaya from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

Said Philippe Touati, Managing Director, Head of Origination and Client Coverage Singapore for Standard Chartered Bank, “We are pleased to partner the National Museum of Singapore for this meaningful photo exhibition, which celebrates the rich history and culture of families in Singapore and Malaya. The photo display for intimate moments and fond memories of loved ones and their family history to be shared, demonstrates the importance of family and heritage, and is in line with our brand promise – that we are Here for good – Here for people, Here for progress and Here for the long run.”

Images of these key figures and families such as Lim Nee Soon and his family – contributed by his great-granddaughter – as well as pioneers behind prominent institutions like The Chinese High School and Haw Par Villa (or Tiger Balm Gardens) will be shown. Pictures of the ordinary folk, whose lives have been positively shaped in some ways by these philanthropists and pioneers, will also be brought to the forefront on this photo-wall.

The Legacy of Willie Phua
A Singaporean who has had an illustrious career with Radio Television Singapore, Reuters TV and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a news cameraman, Willie Phua is known for his work in news and features that captured Asia’s triumphs and tragedies on film and video from the early 1960s to the 1990s. A forerunner in his field, Willie Phua brought a slice of Asian life to the people of Australia, paving the way for aspiring cameramen to take an active part in sharing history in the global arena through the medium of broadcasting. In recognition of his work during this 30-year career, Willie Phua was awarded the honorary medal of the Order of Australia in 1996.

The five selected film cameras donated by Willie Phua were used in the coverage of major news events in Singapore’s history, including the massive Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1963 and the terrorist bombings at

MacDonald House during Indonesia’s Konfrontasi in 1965. The cameras also saw action on the international stage, which included the Vietnam War and the Tiananmen Square protests.

Beginning with black and white photographs of him as a young man working with his 16mm film cameras, the period of Willie Phua’s career as a cameraman in Asia from the early 1960s until the 1990s will be charted by the 41 photographs on display.

Willie Phua will be conducting a talk at the National Museum’s Salon at 2pm on Saturday, 9 October together with Bob Wurth, author of Capturing Asia. Participate in an interactive chat session as Willie Phua shares his life and stories – which include his experiences covering the racial riots in Singapore, the Vietnam War and the riots at Tiananmen Square.

Image: National Museum of Singapore

About the National Museum of Singapore
With a history dating back to its inception in 1887, the National Museum of Singapore is the nation’s oldest museum with a young soul. Designed to be the people’s museum, the National Museum is a custodian of the 11 National Treasures, and its Singapore History and Living Galleries adopt cutting-edge and varied ways of presenting history and culture to redefine conventional museum experience.

A cultural and architectural landmark in Singapore, the Museum hosts vibrant festivals and events all year round – the dynamic Night Festival, visually arresting art installations, as well as amazing performances and film screenings – in addition to presenting lauded exhibitions and precious artefacts. The programming is supported by a wide range of facilities and services including F&B, retail and a Resource Centre. The National Museum of Singapore re-opened in December 2006 after a three-year redevelopment.

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