Newly restored Baba House showcases a rich heritage
5 September 2008
OPENING: (From left) NUS President (outgoing) Prof Shih Choon Fong;
President of the Peranakan Association Mr Lee Kip Lee; Singapore
President and NUS Chancellor Mr S R Nathan; Miss Agnes Tan; Chairman of
National Research Foundation Dr Tony Tan; and Acting President Prof Tan
MORE than 150 years old, the
three-storey Baba House at 157 Neil Road will open its doors to the
public from 15 Sept. Steeped in Peranakan culture, the House's first
and second floors will give visitors a glimpse of the past -- while the
third floor will feature more modern aspects of the culture.
Managed by the NUS Museum and the NUS Centre for the Arts, the House
was officially opened (4 Sept) by Singapore President and NUS
Chancellor, Mr S R Nathan. The two-day celebrations also saw VIPs which
included Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr George Yeo as well as
ambassadors and key leaders of regional Peranakan associations.
Restoration work on Baba House started in 2007. It is the first house
of its kind to be featured as a restored heritage and architectural
project under the supervision and consultation of Urban Redevelopment
Authority and the School of Design and Environment of NUS. Some 60 to
70 per cent of the furniture in the house such as the ancestral shrine
and two wedding beds belonged to the Wee family.
WELCOME: Baba House throws open its gates to the public from 15 Sept.
The plot was bought by Chinese shipping tycoon Wee Bin in 1860 and the
previous owner of the house, Wee Lin, is a 6th-generation descendant of
the Wee family. In 2005, Miss Agnes Tan, the last surviving daughter of
the late Straits Chinese community leader Tan Cheng Lock, donated $4
million to NUS to acquire and restore the house to teach young people
about Peranakan history, culture and architecture. Miss Tan's nephew,
Mr Peter Lee, an art historian, writer and committee member of the
Peranakan Association, is the honorary curator for Baba House.
Mr Lee Kip Lee, President of the Peranakan Association, said at the
opening ceremony that the Baba House represents an "old and ongoing
love affair" between the Peranakan community and NUS. "It also
represents the idealism, vision and generosity of our forefathers,
which Agnes Tan continues to express, and which we hope will remain to
inspire not only our community, but all communities of Singapore," he
NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong said the Baba House provides rich
resources for the University's faculties and departments, including the
School of Design and Environment, its Architectural Department, the
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Southeast Asian Studies
Programme. "These departments were also privileged to participate in
the archaeological study as well as the restoration process led by the
Urban Redevelopment Authority," he said.
Besides guided tours, visitors can also take part in lifestyle
programmes such as Heritage Cuisine and the Book Circle. For more
information and enquiries on Baba House, please email: