Cambodia Needs More Museums, Officials Say

National cultural officials and Siem Reap provincial officials said Wednesday that the government is considering plans for a new national museum that will house artifacts in Siem Reap town.

“We have only one [national museum], which is not enough…. China has 3,000 national museums, and Thailand now has 300,” said Khun Samen, director of the Museum Department of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

Although location and design have not yet been settled upon, Khun Samen said the building will be large and modern, but based on traditional Khmer architecture.

Khun Samen said museums are very important to communities and should be built in all the provinces, districts, communes and even the government ministries in Phnom Penh. Museum expansion will benefit local businesses, as they can draw in tourists’ spending money and give vendors a good location to sell their wares, he said.

Oun Phalline, deputy director of the Museum Department, agreed. “If local people [in the provinces] want to see their national artifacts, they will not need to drive to Phnom Penh to see them. And cultural officials in the provinces will not need to bring artifacts they have found to put in the National Museum [in Phnom Penh],” she said. Oun Phalline said is not clear when construction will begin.

Hang Soth, director of the Art Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, said that several building proposals have been submitted already, including one from a Japanese-French-German cooperative and one from a Thai company with a $200 million price tag.

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