Don't sever museum's historic link

Straits Times Forum 12 Aug 11;

IN THE near future, Singapore will have a new natural history museum. However, I am saddened to learn that the new museum will be named Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum instead of retaining its current name - Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, or simply Raffles Museum.

Is the change of name because of the generous donation of $25 million by the Lee Foundation? Apart from monetary contributions, other factors like the origin and history of the museum should be taken into consideration before embarking on a name change. Otherwise, we would be losing that connection to the history and origins of the museum?

Raffles Museum, founded in 1849, was brought about by Sir Stamford Raffles' interest in natural history. An eminent naturalist, Raffles was not only the founder of Singapore but also the visionary behind Raffles Museum. Thus, the name Raffles Museum not only pays tribute to the man who contributed significantly to the natural history of Singapore, but also reminds future generations about the museum's heritage. We should not forget our past as we move forward.

Over the years, Raffles Museum has established its role in research, teaching and training in both the regional and international context. The name Raffles Museum can be likened to a brand. Isn't branding just as important? It could prove useful in making an impression and promoting future exhibitions.

To simply change the name because of the need to acknowledge the biggest donor is not justifiable.

The recognition of a significant contribution could come in the form of a dedication of a gallery to the donor instead of a complete name change.

I hope the relevant parties will consider retaining the museum's original name. In recognition of the Lee Foundation's substantial donation, a wing of the museum could be named after Dr Lee.

Ong Sheue Ling (Ms)