National Heritage Board

National Heritage Board (NHB) actively champions the development of a vibrant cultural and heritage sector in Singapore. It makes heritage enriching, fun and accessible to all through exciting events that engage diverse audiences such as the iconic Singapore HeritageFest, International Museum Day and Istana Art Event.

NHB also promotes public awareness and appreciation of Singapore’s heritage through educational, outreach and community programmes. NHB partners like-minded individuals and groups in the people, private and public sector to further the heritage cause. It also provides state-of-the-art archival and conservation services through the National Archives of Singapore and Heritage Conservation Centre.

About the Heritage Conservation Centre

The first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the Heritage Conservation Centre (HCC) is a high-tech climatically-controlled facility housing some of Singapore’s most treasured cultural possessions. It is also the country’s first centralised heritage conservation facility and stores over 175 000 artefacts. It has conservation laboratories specially fitted for the treatment of artefacts including textiles, paper, paintings as well as three-dimensional objects.

Playing a leading role in heritage preservation in Singapore, HCC sets and maintains high professional standards of preservation. It also conducts guided tours, workshops and lectures to promote a greater awareness of heritage preservation.hertiage1We find out more from Michelle Oh and Phyllis Koh, both Assistant Conservators at NHB. Michelle Oh – Assistant Conservator


How did you become an Assistant Conservator?

I was previously working in garment merchandising when I saw the Assistant Conservator job advertisement in the newspaper. I decided straightaway to apply for the job as it came across as a really unique and special job. While at university, I studied literature and theatre studies and my love for textile, fabrics and fashion also led me to obtain a diploma in fashion design.

What’s your job like?

In many ways, working as an Assistant Conservator in the Textile department at the Heritage Conservation Centre is like a dream come true for me. The job is always interesting and we constantly get to work on different types of textiles from very elaborate and elegant Chinese Opera costumes to intricate hand-sewn carpets done by craftspeople from the villages in India.

Our work is normally done in teams and it’s also great that we don’t have to be deskbound all day as there is quite a bit of hands-on work when carrying out textile conservation.

In textile conservation, we perform both preventive and interventive treatments. Preventive treatments would include surface cleaning by vacuuming and proper storage such as using acid – free materials. Interventive conservation involves humidification. For this, water is introduced in a controlled manner to reduce creases and folds. We rarely use heat as it is detrimental to fibers.


For tears and holes, we may do patch repairs, full supports or linings, tidying of fraying threads and various other treatments. These are carried out with the use of special curved needles or fine beading needles and conservation-safe thread. Due to the size of the textiles, the work can sometimes be quite physically demanding.

Sometimes we may have to stand for long periods or contort our bodies while working on artefacts such as stitching a torn carpet for example. Hence, it is important that we keep in shape!

Although our work is done mostly behind the scenes, we cooperate very closely with the museum curators to facilitate the safe handling, packing, transportation and displaying of the exhibits in the museums.

phyllisPhyllis Koh – Assistant Conservator

How did you become an Assistant Conservator?

In my final year of Biomedical (Life Science) studies at university, a friend of mine who was studying history asked me to join her on the Singapore Heritage Trail, which I found very interesting and enriching. Reflecting on that experience, it was probably the spark that ignited my passion and interest for conservation.

After I graduated, I saw the National Heritage Board advertisement for Assistant Conservators in the newspaper and I decided to apply for it. I was glad to be accepted and have really enjoyed working here ever since.

What’s your job like?

I’m in the Paper Department and we work on conserving all types of paper artifacts such as paintings, postcards and documents. We employ both interventive conservation techniques such as mending, washing, surface cleaning and also preventive conservation in which we frame and mount the artefact to protect it from further deterioration.

I really enjoy my job as I always get a great sense of satisfaction when my fellow conservators and I are able to restore and conserve an artifact that was originally in very poor condition.


We usually source overseas for our conservation tools and materials as we require special materials that will not adversely affect the fragile nature of the artefacts.

Good conservation work also means that we must be creative in coming up with new and unique ways to treat and/or display the artefacts so that the public will be able to appreciate its aesthetic beauty and understand the historical importance.

The great thing about working at NHB is that the organisation is very supportive of staff development and provides opportunities for my colleagues and I to sharpen our professional skills.

NHB-logoAbout the NHB logo

The NHB logo is inspired by the traditional vessel, used since ancient times by people of diverse origins. In Asia, the vessel has long been associated with things auspicious, knowledge, fertility and treasures. It thus epitomises the cultural heritage of Asia.

The golden twirls, which represent fruitful abundance, reflect the richness of Singapore’s diverse cultures; while the varied stripes depict the banding of different communities.

A vibrant shade of blue is introduced to reflect a more modern outlook while maintaining a professional and respectful image. A curved placement of the NHB name reflects modernity and NHB’s holistic approach to the preservation, promotion and presentation of heritage in Singapore.

The overall effect is a rich, dynamic and contemporary heritage symbol.