Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Book celebrates 100-year milestone of the Royal University of Fine Arts



Book celebrates 100-year milestone of the Royal University of Fine Arts

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An image taken in 2009 shows one of the main buildings at the Royal University of Fine Arts . Moeun Nhean

Book celebrates 100-year milestone of the Royal University of Fine Arts

2017 will mark the Royal University of Fine Arts’ (RUFA) 100-year journey since its inauguration in 1917. As a tribute to the history and development of the institution that has long been cultivating various types of arts and Cambodian culture, an alumnus of the university has recently finished a book entitled “The History of The School of Fine Arts”.

The author is Preap Chanmara, born in 1975 in the Tboung Khmum district of Kampong Cham province, and attended the college of archaeology at RUFA from 1995 to 2000. He currently works as a professor and officer in the university.

In an interview with Post Property, Chanmara said that he had always felt an affinity with the artistic design of lotus petals of the school’s antique architecture.

“I was struck by the ancient-looking architectural structure in the school’s campus. And I had always thought to myself that someday, inevitably, the university will undergo a renovation. So, I started taking pictures of the buildings in the campus ever since.”

Years later, he found that he had accumulated a vast number of photographs and documents related to the school, and now, the product of Chanmara’s documentation comes in the form of his 88-page book containing 146 pictures.

In the book, it is explained that the inauguration of the school had officially come about through the royal decree of then His Royal Highness Preah Sisowath issued on December 14, 1917. During the French colonial period, the school was called Ecole des Arts Cambodgiens.

A following royal decree by His Royal Highness Norodom Sihanouk in 1965 saw the appointment of acclaimed Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann to organise the school – then still named simply The School of Fine Arts – into a more formal institution. From there, the school was renamed to what it now is.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Oum Bunthoeun, a student of the fine arts school in 1973, said that until now, most of the university’s buildings are from the original construction. “Like many others, I feel that the most iconic building is the U-shaped one in the middle of the school’s campus. The building faces east, looming behind the National Museum, which was also intended to be part of the University since the beginning.”

This U-shaped building – now holding the department of history – was, according to Bunthoeun, constructed as a huge workshop by using main rafters on the roof, with its doors and windows featuring incredibly detailed sculptures by well-known sculptors.

Kau, 70, a former student of the school, echoed what is mentioned in Chanmara’s book. Just like the National Museum, which acts as a warehouse for the royal family to store their valuable treasures and heirlooms, the school had been a part of the Royal Palace structure, acting as a workhouse that supplied the palace with household items and utensils.

Over the last few years, there have been rumours that caught the public’s attention surrounding the relocation of the Royal University of Fine Arts, including speculation the university would be relocated from its historic grounds to the opposite shore across the Chroy Changvar bridge.

However, none of the authorities have confirmed whether or not these rumours are true.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,