Friday, April 30, 2010

A Visit To Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Took a sketch trip down to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research today. Located within the campus of National University of Singapore and tucked away into one of the buildings. I've heard of them some time ago but never really found time to haul my ass there to take a look. So I made the conscious decision to go for a short trip today - and it was awesome.

Did 5 sketches in about 4 hours. Lighting in the Museum wasn't optimal for drawing, but a lot of the exhibits were ancient so I guess the lighting was softened in consideration of the condition of the exhibits - some were from the early part of the last century or late bits of 2 centuries ago!! Here they are:

Malayan Tapir Cub

Sunda Pangolin

Sumatran Rhino - smallest Rhinoceros Species, extremely threatened, one recently captured on film.

Malayan Water Monitor - these guys are awesome. This particular specimen was one of the biggest I've seen dead or alive.


I'll definitely drop by again to visit and sketch. Hopefully I can interest more illustrators to join me. Entry is free and if today was a benchmark, then the place is peaceful and optimal for sketching - well like I mentioned, lighting could be better but you can't win them all.

I overheard some chatter when I was sketching away and I realized that a lot of the exhibits on display were once placed in the National Museum of Singapore, which had a natural science exhibit. It was done away after the declaration of independence to allow the museum to focus more on nation building aspects (and whatever). The current Biodiversity Museum had such limited floorspace only maybe 10% of the total collection was being shown at any time. I don't have an opinion on the politics that relegated natural science education to its current position over nation building or whether its right or wrong. But I think its high time we bring it back into view of the public. In the 40+ years of nation-building we've lost a lot of our natural environment to urbanization, if we don't educate this generation - it will be forever lost by the time today's children in Singapore become adults. Heck, I was born in 78 and I have NO CLUE about this awesome collection until I'm in my early 30s. I would hope future generations of Singaporeans don't have to wait till they are my age to experience this wonderful collection.

In fact the RMBR requires money to move to a bigger space (between 2000 to 7000 sqm). I've not received any deals or anything to make this appeal on their behalf. I do so only because as an illustrator, any resource is valuable to me and my work. Without these guys holding up the fort and educating our next generation of biologists in Singapore, I wouldn't have anything to draw. Check >>this link<< if you wish to donate.

Good news for the museum. They have raised a total of SG$46M and will indeed move to a bigger hall in a new facility by 2014. It will still be within the National University of Singapore campus and it should - hopefully - be able to showcase bigger exhibits. I know my 50 bucks didn't help that much but still...every bit counts. I hope our youngsters here will get a better sense of our region's natural history from this.

News link >>here<<

1 comment:

Golden said...

Wonderful illustrations! Do you know of any companies in Singapore that offer natural science illustrator jobs? -NUS student


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