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New Angkor museum has eight galleries and a sound dome

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Angkor National Museum opened November 12 in Siem Reap with historical and cultural exhibits.

SIEM REAP -- The new $15 million Angkor National Museum, built with Thai investment,

officially opened in Siem Reap with a ribbon cutting ceremony November 12.

By the next day, crowds of tourists were wandering through the museum's eight galleries.

The museum includes a "sound dome" where visitors can hear readings of

ancient Khmer texts and it has a replication of the sunset over Angkor Wat.

Audio tapes are being produced in seven different languages. Multi-lingual tour guides

are available.

In addition to the galleries, the museum has a "cultural mall" with various

restaurants some for families and others for fine dining, as well as boutiques and

a spa.

"We've had really good feed- back so far and we are delighted," said Nina

Lee, the museum's marketing director.

"The exclusive gallery of 1,000 Buddha images has been very popular."

Lee said the museum is designed to offer information about Cambodia's present and

past.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who presided over the ceremony with his wife Bun Rany, said

private investment in museums will help Cambodia to combine heritage preservation

with development.

"We must encourage private companies to build museums," he said. "They

will help us to preserve and also draw profit into the country with more tourism."

Hun Sen's daughter, Hun Mana, is chairwoman of the new museum.

Lee said Hun Mana comes "very frequently to monitor what is going on. Everything

goes through her."

An unidentified Thai business interest has a 30-year concession to run the museum.

The managing director is Sunaree Wongpiyabovora, from Thailand.

Entrance fees are $12 for foreigners and $3 for Cambodians. A press release called

the structure a "world class museum" and "a cultural learning institute

that enhances artefact preservation, collection and restoration."

Despite private funding, the museum was developed in close collaboration with the

Cambodian government.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) provided the curators. All of the artefacts

in the museum will be looked after by MCFA and Angkor Conservation, the organization

which oversees the management of Angkor temples.

"The museum will give its visitors a deeper understanding of Khmer history so

when they go to the actual temples they will have a better experience," said

Lee. "We want the museum to help Cambodians, especially the younger generation,

to understand more about their history."

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