A museum to call my own

A museum to call my own
Kong Chow Wui Koon's secretary-general Lawrence Sew (above) on why the clan association decided to convert its building into a living museum.

Private museums are on the ascendant in an increasingly affluent Asia and Singapore is no exception.

According to industry estimates, about 20 privately funded home- grown museums in areas such as art, lifestyle and heritage have sprung up here in recent years, while Paris' largest private museum will open its first venue outside Europe here.

The Singapore Pinacotheque de Paris is set to fully open at Fort Canning Centre by the first quarter of 2015, although its ongoing pop-up exhibition of paintings by five centuries of art masters gives a taste of what to expect.

The Pinacotheque shows artworks on loan from private collections around the world.

In its concentration of such museums, Singapore is not alone in this region.

Japan has established private museums such as the Mori Art Museum and Suntory Museum of Art, while China has lately seen a string of museums bankrolled by wealthy private collectors. Among them is Chinese Indonesian collector Budi Tek, who owns a private museum in Jakarta and is now building a second one in Shanghai.

Private museums are owned by an individual or organisation, rather than a government body, and serve a primarily educational function. Within this umbrella definition, there are many different operating models out there.

The Museum Roundtable, an informal grouping of museums led by the National Heritage Board, now counts 16 private museums among its 57 members.

These private institutions range from those showcasing the collection of an individual owner, such as the Mint Museum Of Toys and Peranakan home museum The Intan, to heritage centres owned by Chinese clan associations, hospitals and other private bodies.

The number does not include museums that opened in the last few months such as the Kong Chow Cultural Centre, set up by Kong Chow Wui Koon which turned its entire 89-year-old clan association building into a living museum.

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