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Museum in Preah Vihear ready to open after 10 years preparing

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk at Preah Vihear temple, near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, on July 21, 2008. A new museum was set to open near the temple on Tuesday. Tang Chin Sothy/AFP
Cambodian Buddhist monks walk at Preah Vihear temple, near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, on July 21, 2008. A new museum was set to open near the temple on Tuesday. Tang Chin Sothy/AFP

Museum in Preah Vihear ready to open after 10 years preparing

A new museum near Preah Vihear temple will be inaugurated on Tuesday, 10 years after the project began. The Samdech Techo Hun Sen Eco-Global Museum consists of 11 buildings on a 177-hectare plot of land in Choam Ksan district. It will present artefacts from the nearby temple and related heritage sites, as well as exhibitions on local culture, flora and fauna.

“The purpose of creating this museum during the war time with the neighbouring country is to show the world that Cambodia does not need war, we need only peace, to preserve the national heritage, to transfer knowledge from the past to the public and to educate the locals to love their national heritage and disseminate it to others,” said museum Director Som Piseth.

Unesco provided technical support for the project, with the finances partly supported by the Cambodian government, by funds from Prime Minister Hun Sen and from other donors. Piseth was unable to provide information about the project’s costs.

Among the challenges in building the museum was the ongoing border conflict with Thailand until the end of 2013, a lack of equipment and workers, and the remoteness of the museum, he said.

The museum is distinct from others not only in terms of its size but also in what it will show, with objects on display ranging from ancient artefacts to information about a variety of heritage locations in Cambodia, and even exhibits on neighbouring countries. It will also focus on local indigenous cultures, especially the Kuy ethnic group – including their role during the Angkorian era as elephant breeders and as armourers.

“It is really a museum which is showing the cultural diversity of Cambodia,” Unesco representative Anne Lemaistre said. “It is the first ethnographic museum in Cambodia.”

Its variety is part of the attraction, Piseth said, with its focus not on “one specific theme or topic”.

“We do not only focus on showing the archaeological collections but we also show the history of other world heritage countries such as Laos, Vietnam, the culture and the livelihoods of indigenous people, as well as the flora and fauna in the area,” he said.

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