Exhibition
Level 2,
Goh Seng Choo Gallery
Daily from 10am – 7pm
Last admission at 6.30pm
Free admission for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and visitors aged 6 years and below
Man and nature have often had a rather complex and uneasy relationship, one where desire and danger are just a fine line apart. Certain creatures and plants are prized as objects of desire but there are deeper, darker sides to them. Others, such as the cobra, candlenut and castor oil plant harbour poisons or venom, yet these same organisms can provide us with culinary pleasure or medical cures, or be adopted as powerful cultural symbols.
desire and danger

In this selection of drawings from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, learn about creatures from the Malay Peninsula that arouse our appetites and induce fear, and exotic plants sought for their ability to induce pleasure or pain.

Here, you will also get to experience a range of tactile and aromatic sensations derived from the region’s botanical and zoological treasures. Take a whiff of botanical extracts such as the galangal, commonly used to make rendang (meat simmered in coconut milk and spices), view zoological specimens from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and have a feel of a slab of gutta-percha – one of Singapore’s major exports in the 19th century.

desire and danger

About the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings

William Farquhar, the first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, was also a keen naturalist who made important botanical and zoological discoveries. During his previous tenure as Commandant and later Resident of Melaka in the early 19th century, Farquhar commissioned several local Chinese artists to paint and document the diverse flora and fauna of the Malay Peninsula. This set of 477 watercolours was donated in 1827 to the Royal Asiatic Society Library, which noted it to be “a very valuable and interesting collection” demonstrating “fidelity of representation” and “great pains in execution”. In 1995, the drawings were purchased by Mr Goh Geok Khim, who donated the entire collection to the National Museum of Singapore.

Family Time

Take a trip through 700 years of Singapore's history with your little ones with our Family Time Guide to find out how life in this Lion City has changed over the centuries. On your journey, you will meet various historical figures as well as landmark objects in each phase of Singapore's history. Explore how people from different communities used to live, their aspirations and how they helped shape the Singapore we see today.

Museum guide

Download our museum guide (English, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil) to find out about the many treasures in our various galleries. In this guide, you will also find the floor plan for easier navigation. Enjoy your visit!

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