Located just north of the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia is housed in a graceful terracotta structure of traditional design (built from 1917 to 1920), with an inviting courtyard garden. The museum is home to the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture: a millennium’s worth and more of masterful Khmer design.
Housed within an impressive red sandstone structure, The National Museum of Cambodia stands out as a fine illustration of the traditional Khmer architecture. With over 14,000 interesting exhibits to its credit, the museum is truly a treasure trove of artefacts portraying Khmer and Angkorian culture and history.
Its exhibits, comprising bronze/wood sculptures, ceramic items, ethnographic items and stone articles are categorised into 4 brackets: prehistoric, pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor exhibits. One of its most spectacular exhibits is the 8-armed statue of Lord Vishnu that dates back to the 6th century. Another remarkable attraction is the image of King Jayavarman VII in a meditation posture that can be seen in the West Gallery, displaying artworks from Angkor Wat.
Visit the museum’s Bronze Gallery to take a peek into bronze-casting methods practised during the Angkorian period from the 6th to 13th centuries. Found next to the Bronze Gallery is a rare repository of post-Angkorian-era Buddha images. There's also a gallery that exhibits a selection of sandstone sculptures dating back to the 6th century.
The museum is equally noteworthy for its impeccable, verdant garden courtyard with 4 lotus pools. In the centre of the courtyards is a renowned statue of the Leper King or Lord Yama – the Deity of Death, according to Hindu mythology. Further, the portico that bounds the garden courtyard is notable for its stone works, bas-reliefs, ornamental door lintels and significant stele containing old Khmer as well as Sanskrit inscriptions – most dating from between the 6th and 11th centuries.
Adjacent to the museum is the Royal University of Fine Arts, whose origins trace back to the École des Arts Cambodgiens that was founded in 1918 under the supervision of George Groslier to train students in the art of bronze casting, traditional drawing, furniture making and sculpture modelling, which is still continued here.
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