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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government loans ancient statues for Japan tour

Government loans ancient statues for Japan tour

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Nearly one hundred statues from the National Museum will make a seven-city tour through Japan. The Japanese movie company responsible for the deal will in turn donate money to the construction of rural museums. Many of the statues, similar to the one pictured, have been painstakingly restored, and some have been valued at as much as $2 million.

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Japanese company has agreed to borrow 82 valuable sandstone and bronze statues

for a series of exhibitions in major Japanese cities. In return, the company will

donate $100,000 to the construction of two provincial museums.

The artifacts, many dating back to Angkorean and pre-Angkorean times, will be taken

to Japan in mid-June and shown in seven major cities from July until September 2006,

said Khun Samen, director of Cambodia's National Museum.

"They asked to borrow more statues than that, but we requested to keep some

for showing the tourists," said Samen

About 2,000 statues are currently on display in Cambodia, he said, while thousand

of other damaged antiquities are kept in storage vaults beneath the museum.

Ikeda Hirotsugu, first secretary at the Japanese embassy in charge of cultural affairs,

said the statues were being borrowed by a large movie company named Toei and not

by the Japanese government.

Chuch Phoeun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said the

statues have been shown in America, France, Germany and South Korea.

Some were valued at up to $2 million, Phoeun said.

In return for borrowing the works of art, Japan will contribute $100,000 towards

building museums in the provinces of Banteay Meanchey and Takeo, he said.

Using funds collected from previous Khmer statue exhibitions overseas, work started

on the new two-story provincial museums in January and Phoeun expected them to be

completed by early June. After construction is finished, it would take another three

months to prepare around 200 statues for display in each location, Phoeun said.

"Most of Cambodia's young generation don't know clearly about [our ancient]

culture and civilization ... [so] we will also show Cambodia's history in each generation

through video and slides at the museum," Phoeun said.

A museum in Battambang has already opened to the public, he said, and the government

would like to build museums in Kampong Thom and other provinces, if it has an adequate

budget.

Thong Khon, secretary of state at Ministry of Tourism, said a previous loan of Cambodian

statues to Korea had helped promote tourism, and he hoped the Japanese exhibitions

would have a similar effect.

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