Go On A Voyage Of Love And Longing At National Museum Exhibition Pairing Natural History Drawings With Malay Literature

A Voyage of Love and Longing
Image: National Museum of Singapore
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The Goh Seng Choo Gallery at National Museum of Singapore will be reopening on 10 February 2021 with A Voyage of Love and Longing. The new exhibition pairs the William Farquahar Collection of Natural History Drawings with Malay literature.


A Voyage of Love and Longing at Goh Seng Choo Gallery, National Museum of Singapore

A Voyage of Love and Longing at Goh Seng Choo Gallery, National Museum of Singapore

Stepping inside A Voyage of Love and Longing, visitors will be able to view the 19th century drawing which were commission by William Farquahar to document the native flora and fauna of Malay Archipelago. For the first time, they will be presented alongside Malay pantuns (rhyme quatrains), classical texts and love ballads to offer a poetic perspective of natural history. The literary excerpts are drawn from prominent regional writers and musicians from the 19th and 20th centuries, including Amir Hamzah and Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir.

The inspiration behind A Voyage of Love at National Museum of Singapore is the practice of belayar or voyage. The exhibition aims to evoke the emotions that seafarers felt at different points of a sea voyage, from the sadness of departure to happy reunions upon return. The Malay pantuns are placed side-by-side with corresponding drawings from the collection to provide visitors with a personal, emotional connection to the natural history drawings.


New Digital Activities

New Digital Activities
Image: National Museum of Singapore

New digital activities have also been introduced at Goh Seng Choo Gallery to encourage visitors to interact with the collection of drawings. There is a choose-your-own-adventure online game based on the process of preparing for voyages. The game can be accessed via the museum’s Dome Bot chatbot on mobile devices while at the exhibition.

Visitors can also scan a QR code to create a digital postcard in order to take home their favourite drawings and poems from the exhibition.

Ms Chung May Khuen, Director of the National Museum of Singapore, said: “We are excited to welcome visitors back to the refreshed Goh Seng Choo Gallery with A Voyage of Love and Longing. The exhibition marks the first time that our prized William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings is paired with lyrical Malay literary works. This unique presentation is part of our ongoing efforts to invite the public to discover intimate connections with Singapore’s history and cultural heritage, and inspire in them a newfound appreciation for our National Collection.”