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Peranakan Museum Receives BNP Paribas Sponsorship For Conservation of Rare Beadwork Tablecloth

The sponsorship by BNP Paribas Singapore Branch and BNP Paribas Foundation is the first of its kind for the National Heritage Board

One of the Peranakan Museum's star artefacts will make its return to the museum today. The rare beadwork tablecloth – which is one of the world's largest and finest examples of Peranakan beadwork – is back after undergoing conservation work sponsored by BNP Paribas Singapore Branch and BNP Paribas Foundation. This event marks the first time that the National Heritage Board has received a donation specifically for the conservation of an artefact.

“Conservation is a vital part of the effort to preserve our heritage for future generations. However, it is very much behind-the-scenes work and not everyone realises the level of effort and expertise that is needed to conserve and preserve our artefacts. We are delighted to be working with BNP Paribas on this project. This sponsorship is the first of its kind for the museum and the National Heritage Board, and we hope that more corporations will come forward to support such efforts,” said Dr Kenson Kwok, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum.

The beadwork tablecloth, which dates back to the early 20th century, has never been displayed in its entirety. Due to damage and wear and tear, its tassled fringe had always been tucked in and hidden from view. For the work on the tablecloth, conservators from a well-known UK company specialising in the restoration of fine art objects were flown in. Over a period of 5 weeks, the conservators worked at securing and repairing the beadwork tassels and fringe and reinforcing the backing of the tablecloth. The successful conservation of the piece means that visitors can now appreciate the full beauty of the beadwork tablecloth, for the first time.

“BNP Paribas is delighted to see the successful conservation of this significant piece of Peranakan history. This first collaboration between BNP Paribas and the Peranakan Museum provided an ideal opportunity for us to contribute to the preservation of a part of Singapore's culture and heritage,” said Jean-Pierre Bernard, Chief Executive Officer Singapore Branch and Regional Head for South East Asia.

Martine Tridde Mazloum, Head of the BNP Paribas Foundation agrees. “The conservation of this historical piece is aligned with the Foundation's art initiatives to preserve, restore and promote public awareness of cultural heritage. This beautiful artefact, with its intricate detailing and motifs, is truly a rare find.”

One of the Peranakan Museum's iconic artefacts, the beadwork tablecloth is extremely rare for its large size, fine craftsmanship and good condition. The tablecloth measures approximately 1.6m x 1.6m and is composed of more than one million faceted glass beads, which would have been imported from Europe. The European influence extends to the design of the tablecloth, which features birds and flowers in a distinctly Victorian style. Beadwork items like this were usually made in Penang as special commissions from wealthy Peranakan Chinese families, to be used during weddings.

The conservation of the rare beadwork tablecloth is timely, as the Peranakan Museum gears up for another first – its first exhibition in a major European museum – at the renowned Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. Now that the piece has been conserved and is in a stable condition, the museum has plans to feature it as a star piece of the exhibition in October 2010.

“The French have always been known to be great supporters of culture and our partnership with BNP Paribas to preserve this valuable piece of local heritage attests to that. That it will be a highlight of our show in Paris is an especially nice coincidence, and we look forward to sharing the eclectic Peranakan culture with French visitors next year,” said Dr Kwok.
The Peranakan beadwork tablecloth will be on display at the lobby of the Peranakan Museum for a limited period till 23 July 2009. Thereafter, it will be kept in storage to be rested, in preparation for its journey to Paris for the Peranakan Museum's exhibition at Musée du Quai Branly in October 2010

About the Peranakan Museum
The Peranakan Museum explores the culture of Peranakan communities in the former Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca and Penang and their links with other communities in Southeast Asia. It is a boutique museum with the finest and most comprehensive collection of Peranakan artefacts in the world. Three floors of permanent galleries illustrate important rituals, practices and the material culture of the Peranakans, as well as how this unique fusion culture is viewed today.

The Peranakan Museum provides an enjoyable and educational experience for all, with intricate displays innovatively presented in ten galleries, children's interactives and special merchandising in two shops. Two temporary exhibition galleries will present a programme of special exhibitions throughout the year.

For more information, please visit

Peranakan Museum
39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941
Museum Front Desk: (65) 6332 7591

Opening Hours
Mondays: 1pm – 7pm
Tuesdays – Sundays: 9,30am – 7pm (to 9pm on Fridays)

About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas ( is the Eurozone's leading bank in terms of deposits, and one of the 10 most important banks in the world in terms of net banking income, equity capital and market value. Furthermore, it is one of the 6 strongest banks in the world according to Standard & Poor's. With a presence in 85 countries and more than 205,000 employees, 165,200 of which in Europe, BNP Paribas is a global-scale European leader in financial services. It holds key positions in its three activities: Retail banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. The Group benefits from its four domestic markets: Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg. BNP Paribas also has a significant presence in the United States and strong positions in Asia and the emerging markets.

About BNP Paribas Foundation
A long-standing sponsor of museums, the BNP Paribas Foundation aims to protect and widen knowledge of their wealth. Accordingly, the Foundation supports the publication of albums on permanent museum collections and the restoration of their masterpieces.

BNP Paribas for Art
The aim of this initiative is the restoration of art works housed in our museums, the aim being to preserve, restore, study and increase public awareness of this cultural heritage. Since it was launched, the program has enabled around 200 works of art held by museums, including great masterpieces as the Feast of the Levi by Veronese and the The Apothéoses of Hercule, a ceiling painted by François Lemoyne, displayed in the Château de Versailles, or more recently My Flower Bed, by Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese contemporary artist, displayed in the national museum of modern art – Centre Pompidou in Paris. Born in 1994, this program of restoration, if it has been mainly dedicated to French museums at its beginning, intends to expand in other countries: in Australia, Egypt, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Singapore and soon in Canada.