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Bronze on display

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National Museum’s collection of bronze sculptures to be shown in Washington

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A bronze artefact from National Museum.

OVER 38 bronze sculptures from the National Museum of Cambodia are to be displayed in Washington, DC, next year, an opportunity for the world to witness the mystery and wonder of Cambodia's ancient relics.

The exhibition "Bronzes from the National Museum" follows the story of Cambodian bronze casting from the prehistoric period through the distinct Angkorian style of the 12th century.

The Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M Sackler Gallery will host the exhibition from May 2010 through early 2011 to promote Asian art in America.

In 2005, the Freer and Sackler galleries collaborated with the Cambodian National Museum to train three Khmer staff in the art of bronze restoration

Under the guidance of Paul Jett, head of the galleries' conservation department, metal conservator Sean Charette spent 18 months training the staff of the National Museum in modern restorative techniques.

The task involved shipping material from the US to construct the Kingdom's first metal conservation laboratory and to improve storage facilities that previously were prone to flooding.

Six of the works to be shown in Washington,  DC, have been restored entirely by the efforts of Cambodia's National Museum staff.

"The exhibition is an opportunity to raise much-needed funding for the conservation workshops, which will enable more Cambodians to receive conservation training," said Hab Touch, director of the National Museum of Cambodia.

"The bronze pieces need a lot of special care. It's an important part of conserving Khmer culture," Hab Touch said.

The conservation workshops employ five full-time staff. Trained in contemporary restoration techniques, they work tirelessly to document and restore the museum's 6,800 bronze artefacts.

The National Museum of Cambodia features one of the world's largest collections of Khmer artefacts, with a rotating display of 600 bronze objects constantly on display.

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