This exhibition seeks to capture the spirit behind the founding of Nanyang University (Nantah), the first and only Chinese-medium institution of higher learning outside China.
When Mr Tan Lark Sye proposed the formation of a Chinese language university in 1953, the Chinese communities in Singapore, Malaya and other parts of Southeast Asia shared his vision with great enthusiasm. Generous donations and assistance came from Chinese in all walks of life, from rich tycoons to poor hawkers and peddlers. Although Nantah was able to establish itself rapidly as an institution offering quality education, circumstances of the time led to its merger with the University of Singapore in 1980. On the original site of Nantah, Nanyang Technological Institute was established which eventually became Nanyang Technological University. The old Nantah administration building now houses the Chinese Heritage Centre.
In its brief 25-year history from 1956 to 1980, the University was a beacon of hope for the supporters of Chinese language education and culture in Southeast Asia. The University and the values it inculcated in a generation of students gave rise to what is known as the Nantah Spirit.
The Nantah exhibition, organized by Chinese Heritage Centre, comprises a collection of memorabilia and over 130 archival photographs taken from A Pictorial History of Nantah published by Chinese Heritage Centre. The photographs tell a thousand stories about hope, idealism, commitment, self-sacrifices and achievements. They depict the unprecedented spirit behind the founding of Nantah, its development, growth and demise. It is a rich story that still evokes strong emotions among many today.