Welcome Address by Professor SHIH Choon Fong, NUS President & Vice-Chancellor, at the Official Opening of NUS Museums, 26 February 2002, NUS Museums

President S R Nathan, Chancellor of NUS
Your Excellencies
Major Benefactors
Distinguished Guests
Ladies & Gentlemen

Good evening and welcome to the official opening of NUS Museums.

The inauguration of NUS Museums is a proud moment and a landmark event for the National University of Singapore. We are pleased to have you here with us as we celebrate this momentous occasion.

NUS has a history of having art collections on our campus. In 1990, the Lee Kong Chian Art Museum was housed in Block AS6. Four years ago, the Ng Eng Teng Gallery officially opened at the Central Library Building. Our third art collection, the South & Southeast Asian Collection, will be unveiled tonight.

A university with one art collection on campus is uniquely privileged. Hence, NUS is indeed honoured to own three collections. Tonight, we gather to celebrate the coming together of our entire collection of art and artefacts in one museum complex, the unveiling of the South & Southeast Asian Collection, and the launch of the Arthur Lim Concourse and the ST Lee Atrium.

We will also take this occasion to launch three museum publications, and to remember the late Dr Ng Eng Teng for his generous donations of artwork to NUS Museums.

NUS Museums was formed in 1997 with a mission to bring vital change into the museum scene here at NUS. I would like to congratulate its staff on its success in managing, conserving, exhibiting and expanding NUS' art holdings. More importantly, NUS Museums has brought strategic renewal. Its dynamic efforts have resulted in the growth in number and breadth of coverage of the University's collections, with an appreciation in their value. Its number of visitors has climbed significantly from 2000 in 1996 to more than 20,000 in early 2001.

NUS Museums' publishing activities have increased from one publication between 1990 and 1997, to six publications between 1998 and this year. From just three shows between 1990 and 2000, NUS Museums plans to have an exciting exhibition schedule of at least 6 shows a year from this year onwards. It has established a strategic link with a leading overseas museum - the Islamic Arts Museum, Malaysia - and looks forward to a strategic alliance with a leading regional contemporary art gallery in Japan in the near future. Other linkages are in the pipeline, as we seek to bring forth to our community a diverse array of art collections.

It is my great pleasure to share with you the exciting highlights of this evening. We begin with the inauguration of the museum complex - the physical space and premises named the NUS Museums. This will be followed by the unveiling of what was the Southeast Asian Collection, now housed in our new South & Southeast Asian Gallery. Including this new collection, four exhibitions will be proudly opened this evening - one each for the three permanent galleries and another one for the Visiting Exhibition Gallery. The show which celebrates the opening of this Visiting Exhibition Gallery has a strong Singapore flavour which I believe you will enjoy.

This official opening also launches the Arthur Lim Concourse and the ST Lee Atrium, which are dedicated to Professor Arthur Lim and Dr Lee Seng Tee respectively. Full citations of these two major benefactors will be read out in a while, together with that of the late Dr Ng Eng Teng, who presented NUS Museums with his third donation prior to his death late last year. On behalf of the NUS Community, I would like to express our deepest appreciation for their generous support. I am also confident that NUS Museums will enjoy the support of more members of our community, and this will enable our art collections to expand and flourish.

Another highlight of this evening is the launching of three publications. Two are show catalogues and the third, an Annotated Bibliography of Ng Eng Teng. Tonight, we also introduce a new logo for NUS Museums, a new corporate video on NUS Museums, as well as the museums' Volunteer Guides Programme through which we engage with community to promote life-long learning.

These are many firsts for NUS Museums. NUS Museums is a microcosm of NUS, going through vital change to remain vibrant and move forward with the times. Through active engagement with the NUS community, it has also surfaced as a major university museum establishment in the Asia Pacific. NUS Museums, our visual art component, complements our performing art component led by the Centre for the Arts together with the University Cultural Centre, and in time to come, the activities of the Singapore Conservatory of Music.

The inauguration of NUS Museums has a far-reaching impact beyond our campus community. It is a happy event to be shared by all Singaporeans, because NUS Museums will contribute to the realization of our nation as a "Renaissance City of the Arts in the 21st century." I am confident that NUS Museums will grow from strength to strength and will establish itself as a center for quality exhibitions.

On behalf of NUS, I would like to thank President Nathan for gracing this occasion as our Guest-of-Honor. I would also like to commend all who have played a part in organizing this happy occasion, and to express our warmest appreciation to all donors and benefactors for their support. Last but not least, a big thank you to all guests and friends for joining us today.

I wish all of you a very enjoyable evening. Thank you.