Undergrads at NUS can now get a minor in art history

Students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who are interested in art history, and want to learn how to interpret and curate art pieces can now do so through a new minor.

The minor in art history - the second one in Singapore after Nanyang Technological University's programme was launched last year - is being offered in conjunction with the National Gallery Singapore.

The programme is open to all NUS undergraduates.

Under the minor, students will learn how to read, analyse and interpret artworks and their historical context.

The artworks covered include paintings, sculptures, architectural designs and modern installation art.

Students will be also be exposed to modules such as museum curating and South-east Asian art history, which will be taught by National Gallery Singapore curators.

NUS' arts and social sciences faculty dean Robbie Goh said the new programme will have a practical goal in grooming students to be curators, conservationists, educators and museum managers.

Said Professor Goh: "NUS students will benefit greatly by picking up industry knowledge and skills from professional curators from the Gallery."

The minor was officially launched at the National Gallery on Saturday, although classes started in January.

About 90 students have signed up for the introductory module of the minor programme.

One of them, third-year history major Suzie Shin, 22, said it was good that the course includes lessons by industry practitioners.

Students who want to pick up the minor will have to do at least six modules in art history, which are mainly taught by NUS' history department.

Modules taught by different departments, such as South-east Asian studies, English literature and philosophy, relating to art will also count towards the minor. Those modules include art theory, art in South-east Asia and the philosophy of art.

There are currently 28 modules which count towards the programme, with eight created specifically for the minor.

National Gallery Singapore director Eugene Tan said having more students understand art history is a way for the public to understand the value and importance of art.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who was the guest of honour at yesterday's launch, said the acquisition of art history knowledge is needed for Singapore to continue building its arts ecosystem.

"These skills will support our art professionals in developing and curating content that resonates with Singaporeans," she said.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated there are 14 modules which count towards the programme. It should be 28.