Veteran curator and humanities administrator Tan Boon Hui, for many years a significant presence within the Singapore artwork world and a tireless promoter of Asian artwork on the world stage, died July 7 on the age of fifty-three, following problems of a stroke he had suffered in Could. Tan was a stalwart champion of Singaporean artists, significantly these of the lesser-known stripe, and of latest artwork, and was instrumental in bringing the nation’s arts scene to broader world consideration via his efforts as director of the Singapore Artwork Museum and organizer of two iterations of the Singapore Biennale. A former director of the Asia Society Museum in New York, he performed a key position in establishing the Asia Society Triennial, whose inaugural version, “We Do Not Dream Alone,” occurred on the top of the Covid-19 disaster.
Tan Boon Hui was born in Singapore in 1968. His father was a bus driver and his mom a housewife. Tan remembered being delivered to the Nationwide Museum of Singapore as a baby, telling Hyperallergic in 2020, “It nonetheless had its pure historical past assortment of animal specimens and bones, alongside ethnography and work. It was this unusual, odd jumble of issues that fascinated and kind of frightened me on the identical time.” He earned his BA and MA in geography on the Nationwide College of Singapore earlier than going to work as an editor for Editions Didier Millet, which amongst different publications produced exhibition catalogues for Southeast Asian establishments. Tan in 1997 assumed the position of assistant curator at Singapore’s Asian Civilizations Museum.
“I’ve learnt all the pieces on the job,” he advised the Straits Instances in 2009. “Proper from writing the storyline for the exhibition, deciding what goes into an exhibition and discovering the artifacts or the artworks. A number of it’s challenge administration and I’ve accomplished all the pieces that goes into the job—I’ve even swept the museum flooring.”
Following a stint as deputy director of packages on the Nationwide Museum of Singapore, throughout which period he curated the curated the Singapore Pavilion on the 2003 Venice Biennale, Tan in 2009 took on the position of director of the Singapore Artwork Museum (SAM), the place he’s credited with reinvigorating the establishment’s exhibition program via a concentrate on modern Southeast Asian artwork. Among the many exhibits he curated there are these by pathbreaking Singaporean artists Amanda Heng, Vincent Leow, and Lee Wen; he moreover staged exhibitions by rising artists from the area. Tan in 2011 served as director of the Singapore Biennale, a job he would reprise in 2013, that 12 months assuming co-curation duties as effectively. He departed SAM in 2013 to function assistant chief govt for museums and packages at Singapore’s Nationwide Heritage Board, the place he based the Singapore Night time Competition. In 2015, he helmed the Singapour en France competition—which brough Singapore modern arts, tradition, and heritage to French cities together with Lyon, Nantes, and Paris—earlier than being named vice chairman of worldwide creative packages and director of New York’s Asia Society Museum. There, he oversaw the nonprofit’s exhibitions program and museum assortment, in addition to its annual Arts & Museum Summit. Following the launch of the Asia Society Triennial in 2020, he left to return to Singapore and take up the publish of govt director of Arts Home, which sponsors the Singapore Worldwide Competition of Arts and has cost of efficiency venues together with the Arts Home and the Victoria Theatre and Live performance Corridor.
Tan was a powerful believer in inclusivity and in what he described as a “big-tent” method to artwork, and in attaining a stability between native assist and internationalization. “All artwork comes from a selected place and time and doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” he advised Tradition Academy Singapore in 2021. “All worldwide guests or audiences of artwork search to know the place artworks come from and they’ll wish to know what the neighborhood from which the artwork comes from has to say about it.”