National Heritage Board

The National Heritage Board (NHB) is a statutory board formed on 1 August 1993 under the Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA) to preserve the heritage of the people of Singapore. It aims to promote public awareness of the arts, culture and heritage and nationhood of Singaporeans in the context of their ancestral cultures through the collection and display of objects and records.

NHB was established through the merger of the National Museum, the National Archives and the Oral History Department, all previously under the portfolio of MITA.

Organisation Structure

NHB is headed by the Chairman and assisted by the Chief Executive Officer. It oversees two statutory boards; the National Museum of Singapore and the National Archives of Singapore. The National Museum of Singapore comprises the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the Singapore History Museum (SHM) and the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM). The National Archives of Singapore oversees the National Archives and the AV Archives Unit & Oral History Centre. The Corporate Affairs Division is responsible for the administration of NHB.

Roles and Responsibilities
To trace the historical development of Singapore that led to the emergence of the nation-state.
The National Museum of Singapore through its three distinct component museums, namely, the Singapore History Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, and the Asian Civilisations Museum is charged with presenting the multi-ethnic aspects of Singapore's cultural heritage. Through the collection, preservation, interpretation and display of artefacts, paintings and records, Singapore's diverse links with Southeast Asia, Asia and the world are explored, established and enhanced.

To promote public awareness, appreciation and understanding of the arts, culture and heritage among the general population, especially in educating succeeding generations of young Singaporeans by staging exhibitions in the Children's Discovery Museum and in the three museums. The Internet and NHB's website have proved to be a powerful avenue for the museums' outreach efforts.

To promote the establishment and development of organisations concerned with the national heritage of Singapore. The "Friends of the National Museum", a volunteer support group for the National Museum and an associate member of the World Federation of Friends of Museums supports and assists in organising various programmes. Together with the Ministry of Education, heritage trails have been developed for primary school children.

To provide a permanent repository of records of national or historical significance and to facilitate access to them. The National Archives was established in 1968 for the preservation and administration of the archives. In August 1993, the National Archives and the Oral History Department combined to form the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). It has a selection of archival materials available for viewing by the public, including public records, building plans, oral history recordings, photographs and an audio-visual collection.

To conduct records management programmes for both local and overseas institutions through the Conservation Unit.

To record, preserve and disseminate the history of Singapore through oral history and other means. The Oral History Centre achieves this by recording the collective memories of Singaporeans and others with connections with Singapore's history.

To advise the Government in matters relating to the national heritage of Singapore and in developing a museum precinct within the Civic and Cultural District. Under NHB's purview is the Preservation of National Monuments Board (PMB) for which the Historic Sites Unit (HSU) of the National Archives of Singapore acts as PMB's secretariat arm. The HSU identifies, preserves and commemorates buildings and sites where historic events had taken place.

The National Heritage Board has sought to achieve social cohesion by instilling a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history, ancestral heritage and culture among the people of Singapore. At the same time, it sets its vision on transforming Singapore into a regional cultural hub for overseas visitors.

Tan Lay Yuen

Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1998). Singapore (pp. 303-307). Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

National Heritage Board. (1994). Annual report. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 363.6905957 SNHBAR)

Seah, K. B. B. (2000, July-September). Preserving our nation's heritage. Heritage, 5.

Lime Chee Onn heads 16-member heritage board. (1993, July 25). The Straits Times, Home, p. 24.

National Heritage Board Singapore. (2002). National  Heritage Board. Retrieved February 23, 2002, from

The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

Cultural properties--Singapore
Arts>>Art museums, collections and exhibitions

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2004.