Artifacts To Be Exhibited In Zurich

Cambodian officials on Wednes­day agreed to allow a collection of 250 prized artifacts to be exhibited at the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, Switzerland in 2007, Chuch Pho­eng, Secretary of State at the Minis­try of Culture, said Thursday.

Pieces in the collection are currently on display in Japan, where they have attracted 300,000 museum-goers, said National Museum Deputy Director Hab Touch, and have also been exhibited in France, South Korea and the US.

The collection will also be shown in Germany before traveling to Swit­zerland, said Chuch Phoeng. The host countries have agreed to pay all expenses associated with the exhibitions, he added, and a com­mission of officials from the ministries of interior and culture have appraised the artifacts for in­surance during shipment to Europe.

An 11th century bronze statue of the Hindu god Preah Noreay was val­ued at $20 million, the highest value of any piece in the collection.

Cambodia will not directly benefit from museum admissions in the host countries but does expect to in­crease tourism as a result of the promotion of Cambodian culture, Chuch Phoeng said.

“Cambodia isn’t selling the tickets but we do get benefits,” he said, adding that proceeds from the sale of handicrafts and from dance performances alongside the exhibition will return to Cambodia.

Tourism from South Korea in­creas­ed markedly following the ex­hibition of Cambodian artifacts there, he said. Depending on ticket sales, host countries have typically provided funds of around $100,000 to pay for the construction of museums in prov­­incial Cambodia where artifacts can be preserved, Chuch Pho­eng said. Two such museums have al­ready been built in Banteay Mean­chey and Takeo provinces, he add­ed, while there are plans for a third in Kompong Thom province.

In such foreign exhibitions, “the most spectacular thing is always the Angkorian and pre-Angkorian stone statues,” said Tamara Ten­eish­vili, an official at the Culture Unit of the UN Educational, Scien­ti­fic and Cultural Organization in Phnom Penh. The ex­hibitions are “very good for the promotion of culture, for the promotion of…cultural tourism,” she said.

   (Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)


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