Of Whales and Dinosaurs documents the 127-year history of Singapore’s natural history collection April 13, 2015 10:00

In the first book – Of Whales and Dinosaurs: The Story of Singapore’s Natural History Museum – to record the story of the Zoological Collection that forms the core of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Kevin Tan recounts a century-long saga of struggle and change.

Beyond the sleek exterior of its new museum building lies the extraordinary 127-year history of the collection. The collection of biological specimens survived mostly intact through the multiple challenges of the nineteenth century, the devastation of World War II, and its potential disintegration in the 1970s. During the first two decades of Singapore’s independence, it was nearly consigned to oblivion, when the government’s nation-building focus marginalised natural history and placed priorities elsewhere.

It was only through the dedication and efforts of a few stalwarts that the collection was cared for, even in the midst of sometimes appalling conditions. The creation of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is the result of the tenacity and courage of the individuals who looked to the long-term, and overcame the odds to protect Singapore’s natural history heritage.

Of Whales and Dinosaurs will be available at leading bookshops in Singapore and NUS Press from 18 April. It retails for S$49.22 including GST.

Members of the public are invited to a special gallery tour and talk by author Kevin Tan on 29th May at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, on the near disappearance of Singapore’s natural history collection and how civil society helped in saving this element of our heritage. Event details and registration at https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/singapores-natural-history-collection-a-perilous-prologue-tickets-16513211460