Tanoto Foundation Centre for Southeast Asian Arts at NAFA

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Tanoto Foundation Centre for Southeast Asian Arts


The Tanoto Foundation has donated funds towards the set-up of a formalised system of collection, classification, archival and digitization of the Academy's current Southeast Asian (SEA) Arts resources. The Tanoto Foundation Centre for SEA Arts is believed to be the first known regional centre dedicated to archiving Southeast Asian arts resources, with the aim of facilitating research in Southeast Asian arts.


The facility, with a floor area of 35 square metres, was formerly known as the NAFA SEA Arts Room. The collection comprises more than 10,000 items ranging from books, brochures, posters, photographs, slides and post cards that span from 1940s to the present. The collection features Singapore artists and the Singapore arts scene, and covers arts-related books and other materials on Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Most of the materials were donated by NAFA staff, students and alumni.



In 1938, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts was established and one of our objectives has always been “to promote a Nanyang style of artistic presentation”. Since this inception of NAFA, there had always been an ambition and effort on the part of the Library to collect art resources of the region. Most of these materials were donated by NAFA staff, students, members of its alumni and visiting artists. Specifically, in the past 10 years, NAFA Library has been collecting and organizing information resources on Southeast Asian Arts.


Back in the days when NAFA was located in Middle Campus, some of these print and non-print materials pertaining to the SEA arts scene were housed in 4 book shelves while the rest of the materials were kept in some back office rooms.


In 2004, when NAFA moved into the new facilities at Bencoolen Street, the Library allocated a room with a floor area of 35 square metres on the 7th floor of the Library to be the SEA Arts Centre.


This room housed print resources pertaining to SEA arts, with special emphases in the following areas:


NAFA publications comprising of books, photographs, slides, video tapes, audio tapes going as far back as 1946, including graduation yearbooks, course guide books, exhibition catalogues, performance programmes;
Information files on more than 70 Malayan and Singapore artists, including their biographies, quotations, media reports, reviews of their paintings, ephemerals like posters and invitation cards to their exhibitions;
Publications of Malayan and Singapore arts associations, currently including yearbooks, exhibition catalogues, performance programmes, posters, invitation cards of performing arts groups and visual arts groups;
Publications from Southeast Asia countries.


The room currently contains more than 10,000 items (books brochures, posters, photographs, slides, post cards) dating back to 1946.


In April 2007, our benefactor, Tanoto Foundation donated generously towards the establishment of these 2 facilities in NAFA Library:


Tanoto Foundation Centre of South East Asian Arts (renaming the 35 square metre room currently housing more than 10,000 items of SEA information resources),
Tanoto Centre of South East asian Arts @ NAFA, in short, TCSEA@NAFA (an online bilingual website to house a database of digitized SEA information resources).



Collection Development

NAFA Library will continue to enhance its current collection of SEA Arts resources by soliciting information resources (print and non-print), for e.g. exhibition catalogues, music scores, posters, leaflets, invitation cards, publications, sound recordings, video recording, slides, etc. from Arts associations / artists / artistes / designers in the region.


NAFA Library intends to offer special individual / corporate membership privileges to selected artists, artistes, designers and arts associations in exchange for donation of their print and non-print resources, including permission to digitize the full texts of these information resources.

Online Access

In addition to these physical resources, NAFA Library has set up a digital database via the Internet, to provide borderless access to the world at large via a website to be named as TCSEA@NAFA (Tanoto Centre for South East asian Arts @ Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts).


TCSEA@NAFA is an online bilingual arts database on Southeast Asian arts, with the objectives:


To preserve SEA Arts information formats in the face of natural deterioration,
To create an on-line arts research resource, facilitating remote access to SEA Arts information resources by researchers, academic staff and students, arts enthusiasts and arts communities in the region and worldwide.



Access to the physical centre is limited to only NAFA staff, students and privileged members. Researchers and/or members of the public who are keen to use the room need to make appointments with the Library. Examples of such past users include candidates completing PhD and MA degrees from Malaysia and the USA, art curators from local art museums, etc.