New Angkor Wat Museum Stirs Controversy

The recently opened Angkor National Museum seems to be somewhat controversial especially in professional circles. Among the chief complaints are the fact that it houses mostly artifacts that are either pre-Angkorian or from centuries later. In addition, it is a private Thai owned for-profit business venture making some people wonder if calling it a ‘national’ museum is appropriate and making others question the degree to which it can fulfill a museum’s traditional brief of restoration and preservation in addition to display:

But the new museum has picked up powerful detractors, especially among the tight-knit international restoration community that casts a hypercritical eye over what happens at Angkor. The name has drawn the most controversy. The vast majority of offerings come either from pre-Angkorian times or from centuries after.

Then, as the Siem Reap-based historian Darryl Collins pointed out, an enterprise that is foreign-owned and “primarily interested in turning a profit” can hardly be called national, especially when Cambodia already has a National Museum. Collins is among those concerned that the new venture will deter tourists from visiting the National Museum in Phnom Penh, with its profusion of Khmer treasures spanning several centuries. For the Cambodian cognoscenti, too, the Angkor National Museum’s appearance on the scene seems ominous, especially given centuries-old sensitivities concerning Thai designs on Cambodian patrimony.

Full article

(If you are planning a trip to Angkor Wat please check out Savuth’s tuk tuk transportation services at

~ by Leonard on July 22, 2008.

2 Responses to “New Angkor Wat Museum Stirs Controversy”

  1. After 2 ,4 day trips to Angkor several years ago with lodging at the new Reamsky hotel in down town Seam Reap and my very trusty and cordial guide who formerly worked on the site of Angkor thom[His Name and E-mail address:sengsech AT] and transported me in his wonderful comfortable ,rain proof Tuk Tuk everywhere.
    The actual Wat there at Angkor absolutely was one of the nicest experiences I’ll ever have ,actually walking on these premisis and observing this incredible site was an experience beyond description and is in my constant thoughts waiting for another trip there.The new museum was in the stages of construction at the time and all I can think of ever since is,”I cant wait to return for a look see of this huge structure and whats inside’ and now after reading about some of the disappointments,I feel a bit sad.
    Regardless though I will certainly be visiting this museum which I’m hoping may pass along some insight about how a culture so old without modern tools could ever produce such a beautiful piece of architecture.
    My guide took me everywhere including to the mountains where the stones came from.The huge water wheels[2 at different places]were very interesting and the ‘Sun Set mountain temple,Jungle temple and EVERYTHING about my 2 trips there were the most unforgetable wonderful experiences which included some of the nicest little,very smart Heart wrenching children and I cant stress that NO One should ever go to their grave before visiting these wonderful stone carved structures which are a definite statement of a great ancient culture

  2. hi Jim,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I bet you can’t wait till a return trip. I’ve now been 4 years running and can’t wait for my fifth (God willing). Be well.

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