Singapore: Natural history drawings exhibit, Melaka 1800s

William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.

The latest permanent exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore presents natural history drawings commissioned by Englishman William Farquhar while he was Commandant of Melaka from 1803 to 1818.

Prior to his tenure as Singapore’s first Resident and Commandant, William Farquhar served as Resident and Commandant of Melaka from 1803 to 1818. During this period, he made several important botanical and zoological discoveries, and amassed a sizable collection of natural history drawings. Painted by local artists Farquhar had commissioned, these watercolours depict the diverse flora and fauna of the Malay Peninsula.

These 477 drawings have since found their way back to Singapore through Mr Goh Geok Khim, who purchased and donated the complete set to the National Museum of Singapore. This year, The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings finds its permanent home in The Goh Seng Choo Gallery, named in honour of Mr Goh’s late father.

The gallery will feature a rotating selection of the drawings presented in their original 19th century colonial context of exploration and discovery, experimental gardening, and Farquhar’s own contribution to the art and science of natural history.

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