The National Museum of Cambodia, which is nearly 100 years old, is extremely run down and in danger of collapse, so authorities have started renovating the northern and southern wings of the building.

In a statement on August 3, the museum management said it has continued to perform its main function of conservation, training and promotion of Cambodia’s cultural heritage.

The museum was built in 1924 and has been renovated several times. However, the entire building has recently faced serious deterioration, and repairs will require a large budget to strengthen the whole structure.

The roofs of the northern and southern wings have been damaged by natural occurrences such as humidity, insects, bats and pigeons. Moisture, termites and droppings are the reason for the decay of the roofs.

“Understanding these challenges, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts proposed a grant from the government as part of the national budget to conduct renovation work on the northern and southern roofs.

“The government decided to provide the budget and support this work even though it is facing difficulties caused by the current situation [Covid-19],” the statement said.

It said the museum also has cracks in the foundation, damaged walls and flooded storage areas. To fix these, the ministry has requested additional support from development partners, and local and international charities.

Museum director Chhay Visoth told The Post on August 3 that the roofs were extensively damaged, especially support structures. Renovations will take one year to complete and will make the building structurally sound from 30 to 50 years.

“This time, we will make it more sustainable because this [museum] is 100 years old. We have repaired the building from time to time, but this renovation is extensive and will be the largest repairs in 100 years,” he said.

Visoth added that if work does not start immediately, the building will collapse. “Renovations during the Covid-19 outbreak are a good idea because when the pandemic is over the museum will be ready to welcome visitors.”