First community museum at Taman Jurong pulls in heartlanders

NHB's Mr David Chew (squatting) with some contributors to the new galleries (from left) NTU undergraduate Louise Evangeline Ng, 22; volunteer curator Daniel Leong, 26; Beacon of Life Academy Arts Club founder Kim Whye Kee, 34; and arts club members M
NHB's Mr David Chew (squatting) with some contributors to the new galleries (from left) NTU undergraduate Louise Evangeline Ng, 22; volunteer curator Daniel Leong, 26; Beacon of Life Academy Arts Club founder Kim Whye Kee, 34; and arts club members Muhammad Aslam Kan Mohd Anuar Khan, 15, and Pavithran Mahendran, 16.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

More than 24,000 visitors have thronged Singapore's first community museum in Taman Jurong since it opened its doors last January.

Most of those who headed for the 85 sq m museum in Yung Sheng Road were heartlanders, drawn by artworks from Singapore's national collection.

These include paintings, multimedia installations and sculptures of artists such as Ong Kim Seng and Donna Ong.

"Our Museum @ Taman Jurong is a great way to introduce the arts to residents here without them having to travel to museums in the city," said product designer Kim Whye Kee, 34, a long-time Jurong resident.

To heighten its appeal to residents this year, the museum has added new galleries which focus on the community's history and heritage.

The change is prompted in part by feedback from residents, who want "a museum that reflects their pride of being a Jurong resident", said Mr David Chew, the National Heritage Board's assistant director and curator of community institutions and outreach. "So we adjusted our programming to include the history and heritage of Taman Jurong as well."

The museum, which is managed by the NHB and community partners like the People's Association, has dedicated exhibition space to a photojournalism project by Nanyang Technological University students that features the neighbourhood's residents and shopkeepers.

Also, Jurong resident and volunteer curator Daniel Leong, 26, was roped in to set up an exhibition to give people a glimpse of the life of a typical resident from the 1970s.

It features real-life accounts of long-time residents gathered from their interviews for the Singapore Memory Project.

In the 1970s, Taman Jurong was known for such attractions as the Jurong Lake, its nearby estuaries and the open-air drive-in cinema on Yuan Ching Road, said Mr Leong. Other exhibits recall what Jurong industrial estate and Jurong Shipyard looked like from the 1960s to the 1980s. The museum is also a platform for schools and social groups such as the Beacon of Life Academy Arts Club to showcase the artwork of their students and members.

Mr Chew said more such community museums "in various forms" are in the pipeline. One of them is a heritage gallery in Tampines Town Hub, to be ready in 2016.

Civic group My Community plans to roll out heritage corners, trails, trail markers and a museum in Queenstown. Its founder, Mr Kwek Li Yong, 25, said he is heartened by the success of Taman Jurong's museum but added: "While it is glamorous to start a museum, it must also be sustainable and appeal to a broader audience."

melodyz@sph.com.sg