The Museum of Contemporary Chinese Art was converted from a warehouse in 2007. It’s also been nicknamed the “Maosoleum” because of the many artworks featuring communist leader Mao Zedong, explains Dr Woffles Wu.
It currently houses about half his private collection of art and sculpture. Apart from world-class pieces – such as the 7.8m-long, 4.2m-tall painting of Mao which was originally commissioned for a museum in Berlin – Dr Wu is also an avid collector of historical trinkets from Singapore’s past.
Some of his treasured items include a traditional rack from the former Red House Bakery in Katong, which closed in 2003, and a row of cinema seats from the former Capitol Theatre, which shut its doors in 1998.
He says: “I enjoy collecting such items, however ‘weird’ they seem. As long as they are part of the past, I think it is important to preserve them.” He says he’s been collecting items of heritage since the seventies.
Not all of them make it to the museum, and Dr Wu stores them in a warehouse space near the museum. He also says he’s an avid collector of Japanese toys, Marvel comics and old furniture.
Running a private museum is no walk in the park though. Says Dr Wu: “You have to think about the security, programming, maintaining and rotating of works, investing in new works, divesting the old ones.
“It’s not easy and certainly not cheap.” But he wants to share. He takes groups of about 20 to admire his artworks. Admission at $20 a person is by appointment and can take place only between 9pm and 11.45pm.
This article was first published in The New Paper on March 3, 2013.