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SINGAPORE    High & Low Tides


    FrontPage Edition: Mon 13 Apr 2009


Asian Civilisations Museum receives S$5 million gift



Asian Civilisations Museum Receives S$5 million Gift For Expansion Of Its China Gallery

Chinese culture will get a significant boost with the planned expansion of the Asian Civilisations Museum’s China Gallery. The museum has received a $5 million gift from Hong Leong Foundation for the project – the largest cash donation made to the museum to date. The donation will cover part of the cost of the expansion of the museum’s Chinese gallery and acquisition of artefacts for the collection.
“We are truly delighted with this generous donation from Hong Leong Foundation,” said Dr Kenson Kwok, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum. “While there is currently an embargo on building projects under the government agencies, with this donation will enable us to start on design work and costing studies. This is the single largest cash donation to the ACM to date.”
This donation marks the second time that Hong Leong Foundation has given to the ACM. In 2001, Hong Leong Foundation gave S$2.8 million for the establishment of the ACM’s China gallery, which is named after Hong Leong Group’s founder, the late Mr Kwek Hong Png.
“In a challenging economic climate, donations play an even greater role in helping to further the arts,” said Dr Kwok. “While some may feel the arts should take a back seat to the economy right now, we believe that it is through the arts and culture that people can gain inspiration and encouragement in bleak times.”
This second donation of S$5 million in funds is part of Hong Leong Foundation’s ongoing efforts to promote the understanding and appreciation of Chinese art and culture. Established in 1980, Hong Leong Foundation is the charity arm of the Hong Leong Group, which is dedicated to the philanthropic causes of the Group, including the arts, education and welfare.
With the expansion, the museum has plans to revamp the current China gallery display. One of the highlights of the redesigned space will be an area dedicated to the arts of Fujian. Highlights would include regional specialties from Fujian such as longyan wood furniture and the museum's collection of blanc de chine porcelain from Dehua - one of the best in the world.
Fujian or Hokkien culture is especially meaningful for the Group, as the Group’s founder, the late Kwek Hong Png, hailed from the region. Born in 1913 in the Tung Ann (Tongan) district of Fujian, Mr Kwek struck out on his own at the tender age of 16, and came to Singapore to build his fortune.
“Usually when people think of Hokkien, they think about the food or the language,” said Mr Kwek Leng Beng, son of the elder Kwek, and Executive Chairman of the Hong Leong Group. “But Fujian is also about fine art and rich culture. We want to bring this aspect closer to Singaporeans through this project.”
The Hokkiens are the largest Chinese dialect group in Singapore, constituting around 40% of the Chinese Singaporean population. They originated from the southern parts of the Fujian province, including Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou. The early Hokkiens were key to Singapore’s development into a regional trading hub, being actively involved in the early trading at the Singapore River.
“In uncertain times, remembering the toil of our forefathers can not only be a source of inspiration, but encouragement as well,” said Mr Kwek. “Heritage is a part of our society that cannot be forgotten. By working with the Asian Civilisations Museum, we hope to be able to inform and educate future generations about the roots of our forefathers.”
About the Asian Civilisations Museum
The Asian Civilisations Museum's mission is to explore and present the cultures and civilisations of Asia, so as to promote awareness and appreciation of the ancestral cultures of Singaporeans and their links to Southeast Asia and the World. The Asian Civilisations Museum first began its operations at Armenian Street in 1997, which closed at end-2005, and re-opened on 25 April 2008 as the Peranakan Museum. The ACM’s flagship at the historic Empress Place Building opened on 2 March 2003.

Source: Press Release 7 Apr 2009

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