A Convergence of Disciplines: Singapore’s New ArtScience Museum

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Last week in the Bangkok Post, Ezra Kyrill Erker wrote about the stunning new ArtScience Museum in Singapore and about its three inaugural exhibitions. First of all, the lotus-shaped museum building by architect Moshe Safdie is quite beautiful and, most of all, fascinating—a part of Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. The headline for Erker’s article is “A Station for the Imagination.” And, if that wasn’t enough to draw me in, the museum’s tagline is “Embark on journeys through curiosity, inspiration and expression.” As a “curiosity junkie” of sorts, I couldn’t resist a closer look. The idea of art and science as conjoined (as in the museum’s moniker), is appealing as an exemplar of the ideal of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that integrates arts-centered learning, a sometime-topic featured on this blog. The museum’s website describes this foundational idea:

“The Museum’s showpiece exhibition, the ArtScience Gallery, is an homage and introduction to the nascent field of ArtScience. What unites Art and Science is the instinct to observe, connect, take risks and explore new ideas and ways of understanding nature’s wisdom and experiences that shape our culture. Visitors to the ArtScience Gallery will explore these mysterious connections between the arts and the sciences through three galleries – Curiosity, Inspiration and Expression – thus undergoing their own journey of creativity.

“The Museum will also play host to marquee exhibitions curated by leading museums and collections. These visiting exhibitions will be recast through the lens of ArtScience, allowing visitors to experience the creative process and interaction of influences that gave rise to great moments, movements and inspirations in time.

“Unique to the region, the ArtScience Museum expresses Singapore’s priorities and ambition to be the exchange capital of the world, providing an internationally renowned forum for the exchange of the latest ideas and theories. The ArtScience Museum is an endowment to Singapore’s creative class, and it is Singapore’s gift to the world.”

As Erker articulates it, “science is more subjective, imaginative and creative than many assume,…art is empirical and applied and thus the two fields rely on one another.” The museum’s permanent exhibition organizes the visitor’s experience through three the three concepts representing curiosity, inspiration and expression. According to the website, “by demonstrating how creative minds meld the disciplines of art and science to make objects that transform our world, [the exhibition] takes visitors on a journey inside the creative process across three unique spaces.”

Erker also reviews the three current temporary exhibitions, one of which is the Silk Road exhibit from the American Museum of American History in New York. It is interesting to contemplate this visiting work from the perspective of “ArtScience.” Check out Erker’s full article here.

Full STEM Ahead in Rochester


Image by Vestman*

On March 4, I wrote about the connection between the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—and the arts. Guided encounters with works of art and study of them based on the Capacities for Imaginative Learning help develop students’ imaginative and creative thinking skills—skills that supplement STEM knowledge in crucial ways. But let’s not try to change STEM into STEAM by simply adding the arts to the mix. It will not work. What will is to utilize the learning and thinking skills developed through the capacities within STEM education, so that the arts + STEM may be STEM with an “attitude.” It’s quite gratifying for me to see this concept very publicly embodied by the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival. Continue reading

Comments from Korea


Image by Michael Coté*

As I eagerly prepare to speak at the 2nd World Conference on Arts Education in Seoul, Korea in May, a news item from that capital city makes me even more excited about my upcoming visit. At the Global Metropolitan Forum of Seoul 2010 (GMF), a March event aimed at increasing the city’s economic competitiveness, Mayor Oh Se-hoon offered welcoming remarks linking imagination, creativity, and innovation to urban development. His words serve as a potent reminder of the fact that imagination is central not only to education, business, art, and science, but also to the functioning of successful communities. An article in The Korea Herald by Song Sang-ho reports on the March forum, an event that has now set the stage for the exhilarating conversations that are sure to fill the conference hall in May. Continue reading

Notes from an Imagination Advocate, Part One


Image by Jacob Bigelow (1786-1879)*

As regular readers of this blog know, most of my entries have to do with things going on in the world—with people in various sectors whose careers and actions embody imaginative practice. But it seems appropriate now and then to retreat from the hustle and bustle, exciting as it is, in order to reflect on some of the major issues facing imagination advocates like me and my colleagues at Lincoln Center Institute. One matter I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the educational discussion centering on the STEM fields.

“STEM,” for those who don’t know, refers to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the fields arguably responsible for the most impactful advances in society. In recent years, the United States government has demonstrated its desire to promote STEM education in public schools and in colleges and universities. This makes plenty of sense; as the STEM Education Coalition explains on its Web site, these fields play a “critical role … in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century.” Yet, with all of the enthusiasm for STEM, arts-in-education proponents sometimes wonder, “Well, where do we fit into this picture?” Continue reading