Pre-Angkorian antiquities on loan to museum in US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
National Museum of Cambodia officials pack statues to be sent to the US for an exhibition, on Tuesday. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAMBODIA

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is carefully packing and crating eight pre-Angkorian antiquities from the National Museum to send to the US state of Ohio for an exhibition titled Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“This exhibition is a cooperative effort between the National Museum of Cambodia and the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US. It is not an international expo with the participation of other parties,” National Museum director Chhay Visoth told The Post on October 21.

He said the Cleveland Museum of Art agreed to contribute a portion of the proceeds from the exhibition to the culture ministry to spend on national heritage preservation, and the statues will be returned to Cambodia once the exhibition has ended.

According to Visoth, the eight pre-Angkorian antiquities include a Vishnu Linga from Angkor Borei Museum in Takeo province along with another depiction of Vishnu; Durga Tevi; Balarama and two pieces related to Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan along with a pedestal. All of the antiquities are from the National Museum.

He said that beginning in 1996, the National Museum had loaned many Cambodian antiquities such as sculptures to expositions all over the world from South America, the US, Europe and Australia to countries in the region like Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
National Museum officials pack and crate eight statues to be sent to the US for an exhibition, on Tuesday. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAMBODIA

“Many countries contact us to ask if we will lend them Khmer artistic masterpieces to exhibit in their countries, especially the US. The US has a lot of museums – more than any other country in the world – and we have good relations with many of them, so we have sent statues there for exhibition many times since 1996,” Visoth said.

He said having the opportunity to showcase Cambodian antiquities in western countries was important because it raises awareness about Cambodian culture and increases knowledge and respect for Khmer art and civilisation among foreigners, which brings benefits to Cambodia like increased tourism, business investments and development aid.

Additionally, he said the National Museum staff gain practical experience on things like how to organise exhibitions and package antiquities for shipment, as well as giving them more professional contacts internationally and creating goodwill with partner museums.

According to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain will run from November 14 to January 30, and it will present the full story in-context of Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan using newly restored masterworks.

“Revealing Krishna illuminates the effect of global changes over the past 150 years on the discovery, disposition and conservation of the sculptures from one of the earliest major Hindu sites in Southeast Asia,” states the museum’s website.