Angkor National Museum Siem Reap

Thursday 6 May 2010

We get a lot of websearches and other enquiries about the Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap. I had a dig through our archives and came upon this article written by Dave Perkes, when the museum opened in 2007. It’s still relevant today and the pictures give a good insight.

As one who has more than just a casual interest in the Angkor Temples. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this Museum for years.  To be able to view some of the spectacular artifacts which have been hidden away in the Angkor Conservation for decades; was  very exciting. So did the reality live up to expectations?

Peace of Angkor Tours Siem Reap Cambodia National Museum image

Reflecting Pool outside

To start with; the building is impressive; with plenty of architectural references to Angkor’s past heritage.  The style is simple, unlike like many of the surrounding ornate hotels which ape Khmer Architecture.  On entry to the lobby, you get a sense of space and light with glimpses of the circular stairway and the blue pool in the courtyard beyond.

Peace of Angkor Tours Siem Reap Cambodia National Museum image

Concourse (Atrium)

The visit commences on  the upper floor, where a short promo film describes the Museum and what you are likely to see there.   The first gallery is a spectacular display of 1000 Buddha images. The Buddha’s are set within niches; the lower ones were easy to see; but the upper ones were practically invisible.  As yet there are no detailed descriptions of the artifacts. I was assured by staff that labels will be added later.

Most of the upper floor is given over to the Pre-Angkorian period with well presented text descriptions in English and Khmer.  The overviews of Hindu and Buddhist religion and Khmer Culture are concise; easy to read and understand.

Inner Pool

The lower floor covers the golden age of The Angkor Empire; centered on Angkor Wat. Some of examples of the finely carved Nagas and Lintels are spectacular  with descriptions of where they came from. The cutaway model of Angkor Wat illustrates the construction and  is well detailed, even down to the bas relief’s on the outer galleries. The Foundation Steles with their Sanskrit inscriptions were of particular interest and the  Ancient Costume Hall with the Apsaras was another highlight.

Peace of Angkor Tours Siem Reap Cambodia National Museum image

Bayon style heads in Upper Lobby

I am usually terminally bored by statues in museums; preferring to see these in their locations.  I spent nearly a half a day ther in my last visit in October 2008.The museum have selected a well balanced range of artifacts; selecting some spectacular pieces and giving plenty of space. I quite like this approach as it is not overwhelming or cluttered like many similar museums.

The multi-media presentations on LCD video screens and multiple projectors are professionally  done; are of a sensible length and like the text; not over wordy. The Designers have thought very carefully about the intended audience; which are probably those who have a general interest and want an overview of Angkor before a visit to the Temples.  Academics would want more information.

Coffee shop

The Cultural Mall is  open ; but  the  Arts and craft or clothes shops  have nothing you  cannot  get elsewhere cheaper most likely . There is a Coffee Shop on the first floor which serves decent coffee and snacks and the inevitable gift shop which you pass through on the way out.

Peace of Angkor Tours Siem Reap Cambodia National Museum image

Sophisticated (if expensive) Gift Shop

Overall, the Angkor National Museum provides a good introduction to Angkor; has some spectacular exhibits. The pricing at $!2  is far too  high compared to what you would pay in neighbouring countries.

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