NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), in collaboration with National Gallery Singapore, has launched the Minor in Art History to groom young arts professionals.
Speaking at the launch at National Gallery Singapore on 8 April, Guest-of-Honour Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth said that the new programme was relevant and practical in Singapore’s bourgeoning arts ecosystem. “The ability to understand a work of art in its cultural and historical context connects us to our past, helps us navigate the present, and enables us to imagine the future. It provides us with the critical and analytical skills to make sense of our society, and broaden our understanding of who we are as Singaporeans and how we relate to the rest of the world.”
The new Minor aims to cultivate the ability to interpret a wide range of artwork — from paintings and sculptures to architecture and installation art — that straddles different geographies and time-periods. Students can also understand what goes into curating an exhibition and appreciate the diversity of materials and techniques in art production around the world.
The programme will engage practising curators as lecturers, offer classes within museum galleries and provide internship opportunities with art galleries and museums for candidates to gain practical work experience. NUS students are required to complete a minimum of six modules to be awarded the Minor in Art History.
Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of FASS, said that the multidisciplinary programme is in line with Singapore’s plan to transform the nation into a distinctive global city for the arts, by preparing students to become scholars, educators, curators, collectors, conservationists, cultural diplomats and ambassadors. “More importantly, it nurtures future citizens not as custodians of a Singapore or an ASEAN heritage, but as custodians of our collective global heritage,” he added.
The skills learnt will also allow students to think through their own disciplines in alternative ways. Suzie Shin, a Year 3 NUS History student who was part of the pilot batch to take the introductory module, said that incorporating visual language into her learning allowed her to break boundaries of how she saw herself in the world. “I think society has made art too exclusive. I don’t know where that started but it’s not an exclusive medium or idea, it’s very integral to all kinds of structures,” she added.
The new Minor, which is hosted by NUS History and supported by NUS Museum, was introduced in January 2017 and is open to all NUS students.