A new exhibition, Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman, will open at the Asian Civilisations Museum on 1 February 2019. Co-curated with the British Museum, the exhibition provides a look at the role that Sir Stamford Raffles played in the region as part of the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration in 2019.
Among the 240 objects that will be on display at the Raffles in Southeast Asia exhibition are artefacts from the British Museum’s Raffles Collection. These include Javanese and Sumatran objects which Raffles personally collected during his time in Southeast Asia.
The Raffles in Southeast Asia exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum also seeks to showcase the artistic and cultural heritage of the Malay World.
Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and the Statesman exhibition
Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Kennie Ting said, “There are two main intents for this exhibition. The first is to objectively address the figure of Raffles, presenting him as a complex and multifaceted personality, rather than the mythical, one-dimensional “founder figure” most Singaporeans “know” him as. He was a scholar and avid collector of natural and cultural heritage, but also a ruthless statesman and colonial opportunist. We hope to inspire visitors to look beyond the conventional origin story of modern Singapore; to place this story against larger historical and geopolitical developments in the region.”
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Adding on, he said, “The second, equally important, intent is to showcase the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Java and the Malay World. The exhibition takes the visitor on a virtual tour of the great empires of Java – from the 9th century, when the great Hindu-Buddhist monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan were built, through to the 18th and early 19th centuries, to explore the origins of today’s still-thriving central Javanese royal
courts of Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Mangkunegaran, and Pakualaman. The tour ends off in the lands of the former Johor-Riau-Lingga Sultanate, allowing the visitor to delve deeper into Singapore’s own roots in the Malay world.”
Keeper of the Department of Asia at the British Museum, Jane Portal also said, “Sir Stamford Raffles played many roles. He sought to understand the region through his collection of natural history and cultural materials and promoted Southeast Asian cultures to the British. Together with the ACM, we are excited to present a balanced perspective of Raffles that develops a fuller picture of the history of the region to the diverse audiences of Singapore and Southeast Asia.”
The Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and the Statesman exhibition will be open from 1 February to 28 April 2019 at the Asian Civilisations Museum.