National Heritage Board
Feature | NHB

Custodian of the Singapore Story

The National Heritage Board is the custodian of Singapore's heritage. This organisation is responsible for telling the Singapore story, sharing the Singaporean experience and imparting the Singapore spirit. Its mission is to preserve and celebrate the shared heritage of our diverse communities, for education, nation-building and cultural understanding. It manages our national museums and heritage institutions, sets policies about heritage sites, National Monuments and the National Collection, and curates heritage programmes and exhibitions to connect past, present and future generations of Singaporeans.
National Heritage Board

Samuel Lee - NHB Scholar, has a Masters in Humanities and Art History from The University of Chicago and a Bachelor in English Literature from NUS. He is currently an Assistant Manager at the Heritage Conservation Centre in NHB, planning strategy and developing future projects that will bring greater insights into the conservation and storage of the National Collection to the public.

National Heritage Board (NHB) runs a repository and conservation facility known as the Heritage Conservation Centre (HCC) in Jurong, which is home to the National Collection when it's not on display in our museums and heritage institutions. It houses climate-controlled storage areas, conservation laboratories for the treatment of objects, painting, textile and paper artefacts, as well as a laboratory for scientific analysis, material testing and research.

This is where you'll find Samuel Lee, Assistant Manager of Management & Operations at HCC, immersed in his work, developing projects that will help Singaporeans better understand how the National Collection is conserved and stored while not on display.

Let's check out what made Samuel consider taking up the NHB Scholarship.

Why did you consider the NHB Scholarship?

I considered the NHB Scholarship as it allowed me to pursue a master's degree and is a great opportunity to further my career in the arts and heritage sector. I felt that the NHB Scholarship best enabled me to follow my passion in heritage, culture and the arts, while also offering me many options to pursue exciting professional pathways.

I was attracted to NHB's mission of safeguarding and promoting the heritage of Singapore's myriad communities for education, nation-building, and cultural understanding. In NHB, not only do I have many opportunities to gain valuable specialised knowledge, it is also where I can develop myself more in the area of in-market skillsets such as knowledge management and public engagement.

What do you do at HCC and what excites you?

I'm with the Management and Operations Group, which is the corporate services arm of HCC. I am a strategic planner for what HCC aims to do, which includes a few exciting development projects that we hope will enable more to have greater insight into how the National Collection is cared for while it is not on display. In doing so, we also go outside the walls of HCC, to facilitate dialogue and exchanges between heritage practitioners and the public. In a nutshell, while much of HCC's work is very interesting, it's done behind closed doors, and we want to give Singaporeans a view into our world and hopefully they will be as enthusiastic as we are about conservation and the National Collection.

Samuel Lee

Samuel Lee

We also heard that NHB is implementing digitalisation initiatives. What do those entail?

A significant portion of the National Collection is already available digitally at our heritage resource portal,; even those that date back to more than a hundred years ago. I'm currently working with my colleagues from both HCC and NHB's museums to enhance the online presentation of this information and make even more resources available. We are also exploring the use of augmented reality and virtual reality technology for school and public visits, so that more will be able to learn about the work we do.

How does your work benefit the people of Singapore?

My work contributes to bettering the knowledge and appreciation of Singapore's material heritage. This helps enhance the understanding of rich and complex history and our multifaceted and cosmopolitan identity. To me, this is important so that all of us can have a better foundation to imagine and co-create our future.

"I considered the NHB Scholarship because it offered me an opportunity to pursue a master's degree and a career in the arts and heritage sector, which allowed me to follow my passion for these areas while offering a diverse set of professional career pathways." Samuel Lee

How does NHB support your work?

NHB provides robust support for my training and development. We are strongly encouraged to continually participate in courses to develop our skillsets. These range from data science and visual analytics to topics in museum studies, preventive conservation and process facilitation, and so on. I am glad that our HR facilitates the process of thinking through our potential development in providing training roadmaps, professional development frameworks, as well as instituting regular feedback and performance appraisal cycles.

What possibilities are there for scholars with NHB?

There are many opportunities for scholars to take on medium to long-term development projects, which are intellectually stimulating because of their complexity and their timelines. These often involve working across departments, divisions, and even with other public agencies.

What would you say to convince someone to take up the NHB Scholarship?

I would say that the NHB Scholarship is a rewarding opportunity for anyone who is keen to pursue a career in the arts and heritage sector as well as the Public Service, especially if one is interested in the arts and humanities as courses of study at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. It is fulfilling to know that the work you'll be engaged in will make a difference to our understanding and appreciation of Singapore's heritage.