Angkor National Museum, Siem Reap - review by Rusty Compass
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Angkor National Museum, Siem Reap

| 27 Apr 2012
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Map

Map
Angkor National Museum, Siem Reap
968, Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khrum 6, Siem Reap, Cambodia
+855 63 966 601
US$15 - discounts for prior booking

Map
Our rating
27 Apr 2012

The only museum of Khmer sculpture in Siem Reap, the privately owned Angkor National Museum’s collection is faulted by experts for being shallow compared with the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Be that as it may, the presentation is smart, hi-tech and informative. A worthwhile if expensive stop for those seeking some deeper Angkor context.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The Angkor National Museum has been attracting lots of attention - much of it negative - since its opening in 2007. Recent tensions between Thailand and Cambodia over the temples at Preah Vihear can only further complicate matters for the privately held Thai owned museum.  

But as travellers are thus far afforded no meaningful information during a visit to the temples, the Angkor National Museum plays a useful role in telling some of the story of Angkor.

Angkor National Museum,Cambodia,Siem Reap
Photo: Mark BowyerAngkor National Museum, Siem Reap


The Museum’s problems probably start with its name. Visitors might reasonably assume a “national museum” to be state operated and sanctioned by the leading scholars in the field. Not so here. Then there’s the shopping mall style building that houses it - a grim portent of what lies ahead as the shopping component of the project continues to unfold.

And the collection itself has been faulted for being visually pleasing without having many pieces of genuine Angkorian significance. A good many of the Buddhas on display in the spectacular Gallery of 1000 Buddhas are said to be from the 20th century.

Angkor National Museum,Cambodia,Siem Reap
Photo: Mark BowyerAngkor National Museum, Siem Reap


Yet for all the criticism, the museum does play a very worthwhile educational role. The presentation is excellent and it’s is the only place in Cambodia offering visitors some essential understanding of the history and culture that created the remarkable temples.

Exhibits include illuminating accounts on the Khmer Empire, the major kings, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. A gallery devoted to the costumes worn by the stone figures that adorn the temples is especially engaging.

Even if it is on the expensive side, those with a deep interest in Angkor will find the museum a worthwhile stop. Drop by during the heat of the Cambodian day for an air conditioned and informative museum interlude.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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