DAILY PHOTO: Cambodian National Museum in Phnom Penh

In the courtyard of the National Museum of Cambodia

In the courtyard of the National Museum of Cambodia

The National Museum of Cambodia is picturesque. The collection is small and simple, but impressive in quality. For those of us who run out of “ooh” and “ahh” stamina after a few hundred artifacts, it’s just the right size.  It’s also not stuffy in the usual way of museums– large barred windows are unshuttered while the museum is open. (This is probably less than ideal from both the perspective of security and artifact preservation, but it gives the place a certain ambiance, and maybe helped the exodus of the bats that took up residence during the museum’s dormant period)

It’s great to see what they’ve done with the place considering the state of disrepair it was said to be in after the Khmer Rouge period. With respect to my comment about it not being a large collection, it’s a wonder that any collection exists at all after the wave of lootings from the French through Vietnamese soldiers that took place in the country.

Be forewarned, once one is inside, one will be confronted by Buddhists from a monument preservation society seeking donations at about half a dozen different Buddhas around the museum. If you aren’t a Buddhist, this can be a bit of an annoyance. If you are a Buddhist, you may find their approach disconcertingly unBuddhist. They will try to press incense into one’s palm in order to corner one into paying homage to the Buddha so they can make some dough for their cause. However, they don’t follow one around once refused (as similar individuals have been known to do at Angkor.) It may be a great cause, but they’d probably do better if they restricted it to one per museum and not one per gallery, and just let people drop cash rather than insisting on the idol worship first. I’m nondenominationally happy-go-lucky myself, but I can imagine this being troublesome for some visitors. At any rate, it’s symptomatic of the country’s  poverty and their inability to support their deity at the level to which he has apparently become accustomed.

4 thoughts on “DAILY PHOTO: Cambodian National Museum in Phnom Penh

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