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Museum Musings: Singapore Art Museum Appoints Eugene Tan as New Director

Screenshot 2019-03-21 at 11.08.27 PM

From 1st April 2019, Dr Eugene Tan takes over as the Director of SAM, in addition to his current role as Director of National Gallery Singapore. Dr Tan’s leadership at the Gallery has resulted in successful partnerships with international museums such as Tate, Centre Pompidou, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT), as well as the organisation of several major exhibitions, including Latiff Mohidin: Pago Pago (1960-1969) which toured to Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur as well as Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia, 1960s–1990s which showed at MMCA and MOMAT.

Dr Tan himself is an accomplished curator, and has assisted in curating exhibitions that highlight the perspective of Southeast Asia in global art history such as Reframing Modernism: Painting from Southeast Asia, Europe and Beyond and Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. His exhibitions programme also raised awareness of artistic forerunners and movements to our publics like YAYOI KUSAMA: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow and Century of Light, which placed Southeast Asian masters Raden Saleh and Juan Luna alongside Impressionist masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. Eugene sits on the Board of CIMAM (International Committee of Museums and Collections of Modern Art), Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (MuHKA) and Mori Art Museum’s International Advisory Committee.

Dr Tan was previously Director for Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Singapore, and Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, as well as co-curator of the inaugural Singapore Biennale in 2006, and curator for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Says Mr Edmund Cheng, Chair of the SAM Board: “We are delighted to have Eugene Tan come on board as the Director of SAM. We are at an important juncture for our museum’s development as we undergo a major revamp of our premises. We have great confidence in his ability to make a positive impact and advance SAM’s role as a leading museum of contemporary art through a shared vision and strong collaboration with our curators, programmers, and SAM team.

Says Dr June Yap, Director of Curatorial, Programmes and Publications at SAM: “I have worked with Eugene on past occasion, when he curated the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005, and when we were both at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore. I look forward to working together with him at SAM to bring about new ideas and initiatives that will position the museum for the future.”

Says Dr Tan himself: “SAM has an important and distinct role to play as the beacon of creativity and inspiration for our publics in Singapore and Southeast Asia, by leveraging on the power of contemporary art and demonstrating the possibilities that art and creativity holds for our societies today. I look forward to contributing to this exciting future for SAM to become a globally leading contemporary art museum for the 21st Century, to play a role in defining global discourses on the nature of art and its role in our societies, and to using my roles as Director of SAM and National Gallery Singapore to engage our publics and the arts community in Singapore in a more holistic way.”

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