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Photograph from 1967 or 1968 showing Mr. William Willetts (right of the Reverend Seck Kong Hiap. Just behind the Reverend, to the left, with glasses, is our speaker Kwa Chong Guan. Photo courtesy of Mr. Ng Seng Leong, who is standing next to Mr. Kwa,  just behind the Reverend.

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William Young Willetts: Sinologist, Ceramics Expert and Curator of the NUS Art Museum, 1963-1973

7pm Thursday, 24 January 2019
Briefing Room, Level 1
National Library Building
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064

2019 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (SEACS) — a society dedicated to promote appreciation and knowledge of the ceramic art of the region, and especially Southeast Asia. Its founder was the then-curator of the NUS Museum of Art, William Young Willetts. This talk launches SEACS’ 50th anniversary lecture series, which will include a wide variety of topics ranging from the latest marine archaeological finds to how to collect and appreciate ceramics.

The fascinating story of Willetts and the early days of teaching art history in Singapore will be recounted for us by his biographer and former student, Kwa Chong Guan.

About Kwa Chong Guan

Kwa Chong Guan works on the intersections of history, security studies and international relations of Southeast Asia. As an Honorary Adjunct Associate Professor and Visiting Fellow at the Archaeological Unit of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the Institute of Southeast  Asian Studies, Kwa is interested in the long cycles and emerging deep history of Southeast Asia’s past. As Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the Nanyang Technological University, he works on a range of regional security issues with a focus on the implicit narratives underlying our framing of regional security issues. He started his career working on policy analysis in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the Ministry of Defence before being assigned to reorganize the Oral History Department in the National Archives and concurrently, the old National Museum, which he lead through a strategic planning process to transform it into the current three museums under the National Heritage Board. He was former Chairman of the National Archives Advisory Committee and as former Chairman of the National Library Advisory Committee, he was involved in the integration of the National Archives with the National Library under the National Library Board. He was previously Head of the old Department of Strategic Studies at the SAFTI Military Institute, where he taught military history and strategic studies while concurrently teaching history at the School of Arts at the National Institute of Education. Kwa was called up for National Service after graduating from the old University of Singapore in Philosophy and History, and served as a reservist officer in various command and staff appointment for the over 20 years.

This talk is free and open to the public, SEACS members and their guests. No RSVP is required but attendance is limited to 70 people, on a first-come-first-served basis. The talk program will begin promptly at 7pm and end at approximately 7.30pm. Parking is available in the National Library basement carpark and the closest MRT station is Bras Basah.