The first book that documents the story of the Zoological Collection, which forms the core of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS, will soon hit bookstores across Singapore. Of Whales and Dinosaurs: The Story of Singapore's Natural History Museum narrates an intriguing tale of the biological collection's struggle and change spanning more than a century.
Author Dr Kevin Tan, an NUS law alumnus and Adjunct Professor at the University's Faculty of Law, recounts the extraordinary history of biological specimens which survived mostly intact through the multiple challenges of the 19th century, the devastation of World War II, and potential disintegration in the 1970s. During the first two decades of Singapore's independence, the government focused on nation-building and other priorities, while the country's natural history took a backseat.
The dedication and efforts of a few stalwarts helped save the precious items before they were consigned to oblivion. The subsequent creation of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum resulted from the tenacity and mettle of the individuals who looked to the long-term, and overcame the odds to protect Singapore's natural history heritage.
Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, London, pointed out that the book is a reminder that natural history museums have never been more important. Professor Peter Ng, Head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, noted that the natural history museum is a sign that the nation has come of age in its 50th anniversary. He added: "We have managed to carve up a space in pragmatic Singapore, and in our lives, for something as ethereal as nature and heritage.
Of Whales and Dinosaurs, published by NUS Press,will be available at Books Kinokuniya and leading bookshops in Singapore from 18 April, with a retail price of $49.22 (including GST). The author will be conducting a special gallery tour and talk on 29 May at the Museum for the public.
Read the book review in "Make a date with dinos.