Talk:National Museum of Cambodia

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Former names[edit]

This museum had several name changes through the previous century. When it was first built, it was named Musee Albert Serrault. If anyone has the time, you may want to research that to add to this article. --Dara (talk) 04:15, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

According to the Book "Museums of Southeast Asia" the museum is called "National Museum of Cambodia". Gryffindor 22:21, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, obviously that is what it's called now. But it initially had a different name and was changed several times, including Musee de Albert Serrault (something like that). I thought this article should mention it, but I can't find any information on it. The reason I know about this because it is mentioned in a Cambodian documentary I saw. --Dara (talk) 03:39, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

National Museum of Cambodia[edit]

The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, is the country's leading historical and archaeological museum. It houses one of the world's largest collections of Khmer art, including sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. The Museum’s collection includes over 14,000 items, from prehistoric times to periods before, during, and after the Khmer Empire, which at its height stretched from Thailand, across present-day Cambodia, to southern Vietnam.

The Museum buildings, inspired by Khmer temple architecture, were constructed between 1917 and 1924; the museum was officially inaugurated in 1920, renovated in part in 1968.

Together with the adjacent Royal University of Fine Arts and its Department of Archaeology, the National Museum of Cambodia works to enhance knowledge of and preserve Cambodian cultural traditions and to provide a source of pride and identity to the Cambodian people. The Museum also serves a religious function; its collection of important Buddhist and Hindu sculpture addresses community religious needs as a place of worship. A permanent exhibition, Post-Angkorian Buddha, supported by UNESCO and a number of individuals and local businesses, opened in 2000 to extend the religious function of the Museum.

The activities of the Museum include the presentation, conservation, safekeeping, interpretation, and acquisition of Cambodian cultural material, as well as the repatriation of Cambodian cultural property. Looting and illicit export of Cambodian cultural material are a continuing concern.

The turmoil of recent decades—especially the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79—devastated all aspects of Cambodian life including the cultural realm. During the years of Khmer Rouge control, the Museum, along with the rest of Phnom Penh, was evacuated and abandoned. The Museum, closed between 1975 and 1979, suffered from neglect and after the liberation of Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979, was found in disrepair, its roof rotten and home to a vast colony of bats, the garden overgrown, and the collection in disarray, many objects damaged or stolen. The Museum was quickly tidied up and reopened to the public on April 13, 1979. However, many of the Museum's employees had lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge regime. The resulting loss of expertise, combined with the deterioration of the Museum building and its collection, have made rehabilitation of the Museum a daunting task.

Under the auspices of the Cambodian Department of Museums, the Museum not only manages its own collection, staff, and premises but also supports and oversees all other state-run museums in Cambodia. Its activities are further supported by private individuals, foreign governments, and numerous philanthropic organizations.

Outside of Cambodia, the Museum promotes the understanding of Cambodian arts and culture by lending objects from its collection for major international exhibitions. This practice was in place before Cambodia’s recent decades of unrest and was reinstituted in the 1990s, starting with an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Australia in 1992. Subsequent exhibitions have been held in France, the USA, Japan, South Korea, and Germany.


  • Jessup, Helen Ibbitson, et al. (2006). Masterpieces of the National Museum of Cambodia. Norfolk, CT: Friends of Khmer Culture. 112 pages. ISBN 9789995083601 9995083604
  • Khun, Samen (3rd ed., 2008). The New Guide to the National Museum—Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Ariyathoar. 152 pages. (for availability, email:
  • Lenzi, Iola (2004). Museums of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Archipelago Press. 200 pages. ISBN 981-4068-96-9.

External links[edit]


LilaTer (talk) 20:39, 8 May 2009 (UTC)LilaTer