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Anatomy lessons at NUS Museum

“Daddy, why don’t I have boobs?” Pangzi asked me the inevitable question. I thought the time has come to show him the naked truth at the NUS Museum.


“First of all,” I started carefully, on the way to Singapore’s oldest university. “Whose boobs have you seen?”

“My classmate’s,” came his surprising answer.

This is so wrong. They are all supposed to be flat-chested at this age.


“I’m taking you to the NUS Museum today,” I said calmly. “There’s an exhibition going on called Sculpting Life, where you can see all the body parts you like in sculpture. So you don’t have to ask your classmate to show you again.”

“But I didn’t ask her… she asked me to see!”

I don’t know what’s going on in school, but he must have done something right.


The NUS Museum is integrated with the NUS Centre For the Arts, located near the cluster of sports facilities at the university. It is just next to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, where you need to pay to see dinosaur bones, but this is free to visit.

The collection at the NUS Museum is a contribution from Ng Eng Teng, Singapore’s late grandfather of sculpture. I’m sure there’s a story behind each of the immortalised body parts.


“Look, boobs are supposed to look like this,” I said, pointing to the distorted torsos inside the glass. “Only girls will have them when they grow up.”

“What do they do with them, daddy?”

I have a thousand theories, but I’m not discussing this with you today.


“Girls also have this which you don’t,” I casually mentioned as we came across a sculpture resembling… let’s just say a part of the female anatomy with a slit.

“I know, I know. I’ve seen it before!”

“You what?”

“My classmate let me touch it!”

“She let you touch it?!!”

“Yes,” Pangzi explained. “Her hair clip is very nice!”

Oh, that’s so disappointing.


Next, we saw an artistic interpretation of an erection.

“You know what you have that girls don’t?” I challenged.

He shrugged.

“Your peeing machine.”

“Then what do they have, daddy?”

“Hair clips.”


Pangzi became excited when he spotted a pair of round objects.

“Daddy, do girls have these too?” he asked.

“Erm, why don’t you check with that classmate of yours tomorrow,” I said.


The Ng Eng Teng Gallery occupies an entire floor at the NUS Museum. Two more floors are dedicated to other curated work ranging from Vietnamese art centred around the infamous war to historical artefacts that have surfaced during excavations in Asia.


“Tell me,” I said, as we made our way out of the NUS Museum. “Who is this classmate that has shown you her boobs?”

“Her name is Mimi,” he replied.

How apt.


We were here:



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