LKCNHM turns 5, and looks to a digital future

(From left) NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye, Professor Tommy Koh and Professor Tan Chorh Chuan cutting the anniversary cake.

The NUS Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) - Singapore’s first and only natural history museum - celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sept 5, a significant milestone in the museum’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a leading biodiversity research and education centre in Asia. Building upon its achievements, LKCNHM now casts an eye to a digital future.

“It's been five years since the museum was formally launched in 2015, 50 years since the museum migrated from the National Museum in Stamford Road to the University, and almost 150 years since the museum was first set up back in the 1800s,” said Professor Peter Ng, Head of LKCNHM, in his welcome speech.

“The museum has adapted to changes over many years. The present museum is the product of a lot of supporters and donors over the years,” he added.

The museum’s celebratory activities were streamed online, featuring a speech by Guest-of-Honour and Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, unveiled a donors’ plaque as well as webinars by museum staff.

To open up its exhibits to a wider audience, the museum also launched its Google Arts and Culture LKCNHM partner page. It is the first natural history museum in South-east Asia to be on Google Arts and Culture, a digital platform which features high-resolution photographs and videos from partner cultural organisations around the world.

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Guest-of-Honour and Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh and Ms Rachel Teo, a representative from Google, jointly launched LKCNHM’s Google Arts and Culture partner page.

The first exhibition borne out of the partnership is ‘ASEANA Obscura’, a virtual showcase of 135 fascinating species found across Southeast Asia, like the shocking pink dragon millipede found in Northern Thailand, and a newly described species of crustacean found recently in the deep seas off Java, Indonesia.

The digital outreach is the latest extension of the museum’s journey, which began as the Raffles Library and Museum in 1874. Today, the museum houses 560,000 catalogued lots and over a million specimens from throughout the region.

Looking ahead, Prof Ng painted a bright future for the museum with its continuing activities.

“The museum will carry on with all the activities that have made it successful. The expeditions, the surveys and the discoveries highlighted on the Google Arts and Culture platform are things the museum strongly believes in,” Prof Ng said.