Over 70 Cambodian and foreign students from Lycee Francais Rene Descartes (LFRD) in Phnom Penh recently visited the Battambang Provincial Museum to explore Cambodian history and art, according to the provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts.

Kim Sophoan, director of the provincial culture department, said on February 20 that earlier in the month, a group of students from the institution came to the museum to learn about various periods in Khmer history as part of their school curriculum.

He noted that the classmates showed a keen interest and curiosity about the history of prehistoric times, highlighting Battambang as one of Cambodia’s oldest provinces, particularly known for a prehistoric cave dating back over 70,000 years. 

“It’s crucial for them to understand the origins of the Khmer nation and Khmer art, and to recognise the identity of the Khmer people. Particularly, they should know that an ancient civilisation and culture existed in Indochina, avoiding any misunderstandings,” he said.

According to Sophoan, the museum also draws visitors from various other schools and universities, and is a popular destination for both national and international tourists.

“When students understand and wish to learn about history, it contributes to fostering a sense of patriotism, as well as an appreciation of culture and civilisation in the next generation,” he said.

Sophoan noted that the museum currently displays a variety of antiquities, including cultural artefacts, art and stone sculptures, as well as gold, silver and wooden sculptures from different periods.

Chhort Bunthong, head of the Culture, Education and Tourist Relations department at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, expressed his enthusiasm for the educational initiatives taken by schools and Cambodian students to explore history, culture and the origins of Khmer art. 

He praised such endeavours, stating that they significantly contribute to the students’ understanding of their own identity.

Bunthong also highlighted the positive impact of increased visitor numbers on the museum’s mission in the province. 

“When there are many visitors, it aligns with the museum’s purpose. Specifically, it encourages officials who have worked diligently to develop and preserve the collection,” he said.

Bunthong suggested that in response to a rise in visitor numbers, conservation officials should consider the creation of a digital museum, noting that it would enable a wider dissemination of the artefacts on display, ensuring that more people have access to important cultural items.