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Prof. Ang Choulean is the 2011 Fukuoka Prize Grand Prize winner
 Prof. Ang Choulean is the 2011 Fukuoka Prize Grand Prize winner. Prof. Choulean, a former board memeber of Heritage Watch, is not only a leading ethnologist in Cambodia but also a highly acclaimed scholar outside the country. Having studied in France, he returned to Cambodia during the Civil War there, took charge of reopening the Royal University of Fine Arts, and made a significant contribution to the reconstruction of Cambodian culture and to the preservation and restoration of its monuments. He was appointed Director of the Department of Culture and Monuments at the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA), which is responsible for the Angkor Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, and rendered great service to revive Cambodian culture after the destruction which it had suffered.
Our congratulations to Prof. Choulean.
For more information visit; http://www.asianmonth.com/prize/english/22/index.html
 
Important circular earthwork site in Memot lost
On August 31st 2010 one of the enigmatic 'circular earthwork' or Banteay Kou sites was bull-dozed. The  site was located in Samrong Village, Memot district of Cambodia along National road No 7, and was known as the Samrong Earthwork.

The Samrong site was discovered by the late Prof. Yasushi Kojo ,a Japanese archaeologist ,who identified it using  air photographs in 1997.  Sites of this type were first discovered in 1959, French archaeologist Louis Malleret who described a series of 17 circular earthworks, each with an outer wall and an inner ditch. Malleret reported this new category of prehistoric sites in the red soil region east of the Mekong in Kampong Cham Province and  in bordering Vietnam. In 1962, Bernard Philippe Groslier carried out excavations in a circular earthwork near Memot, later called the Groslier site, and named this civilization “Mimotien”. To date 36 of these large prehistoric villages have been discovered in Cambodia.
Researchers have only been studying these sites for a short time since the end of hostilities in Cambodia.
 
Mr Heng Sophady of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts went to Memot and was completely shocked when he saw - the site completely destroyed . All the rubber trees that had covered the circular earthework had been cut down and the ground  smoothed. The moat on the inside of the wall was  filled with the soil from the earthen wall.  When Mr Heng asked the people working there about the destruction  he was informed that the Memot Rubber Plantation cut down the rubber trees and smoothed the ground to construct a new village for plantation workers. 

 
Khmer Bronze Conservation
Irwin Loy of the Phnom Penh Post reports;

"L
OUISE Cort looked on as a brush was swept over the outstretched arms of the bronze figure before her.

“It’s beautiful,” she marvelled, gazing at the centuries-old crowned Buddha and its intricately detailed hands.

When Cort had last seen the piece, it was weathered by age, and its arms had been severed. But in recent months a team of conservators at the National Museum has painstakingly reattached the missing pieces, making it look as though the statue had never been broken apart in the first place.

Beyond undoing damage, the conservators’ work also allowed the full meaning of the statue to be revealed. The crowned Buddha stood with its palms facing outward, its fingertips stretching to the sky: “Do not fear,” the Buddhist gesture of protection proclaimed.

The piece, which dates from the 12th century, is one of 36 bronze treasures the National Museum has loaned to the Smithsonian Institution for a major exhibition opening later this month in Washington.

The exhibition, titled “Gods of Angkor”, will showcase more than Cambodia’s art; it is also a stage for the country’s new generation of museum conservators, who have been tasked with preserving some of Cambodia’s key archaeological heritage pieces.

Though a generation of conservators was lost during the Khmer Rouge period, the last decade has seen a new crop emerge to take its place in the National Museum’s Metal Conservation Laboratory.

“The exhibition is going to introduce the laboratory to the world,” said Cort, the curator for ceramics at the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution and the upcoming exhibition’s co-curator.

The laboratory was launched in 2005 as part of a training partnership with the Freer and Sackler Galleries. The Smithsonian exhibition marks the first time works that have been conserved completely independently by the laboratory will be shown internationally.

“This is our heritage. This is our culture,” said Huot Samnang, who heads the laboratory. “If we just let it go without preserving it, it would be terrible for the younger generations.”

Huot Samnang is a member of the new batch of homegrown museum professionals who have honed their skills here.

“After the war, there were mainly foreigner conservators and just a few Cambodian ones,” Huot Samnang said. “But now we’ve had a really good opportunity to study conservation. We can run the lab and do the conservation ourselves. Step by step, we’re becoming self-sufficient. We can preserve our own culture by ourselves.”

The exhibition’s curators are also touting it as the first international show to focus specifically on Khmer bronze casters, whose works are not as recognised internationally compared with those of other Asian countries, Cort said.

“We want to show Angkorian bronze casting, which is relatively unknown to the world at the moment,” Cort said.

“It has not been presented in the US in the same way as bronzes from India, Korea, Thailand and China.”

And although the world may be familiar with the structures of ancient Angkor, Cort said pieces chosen for this exhibition will provide a glimpse of the daily life that took place inside the temples, with objects such as incense burners and bronzes modelled after human beings, rather than only deities, sharing space with holy objects like the crowned Buddha.

“The word Angkor is a word many people recognise now,” she said. “What they’re seeing there is the stone monuments. This exhibition displays the objects meant to be inside those buildings.”

Hab Touch, the National Museum’s former director who oversaw the rise of the laboratory, sees the Smithsonian exhibition as a sign that Cambodian professionals are well-equipped to safeguard the Kingdom’s heritage.

“It is so important to train the new generation,” he said. “I’m so pleased to see that these young people are now becoming more active, and that the conservation lab is growing.”

Original story here
 
Cambodia’s National Museum Marks 90th Anniversary
On April 13, 1920 Cambodians celebrated the New Year of the Monkey with the grand opening of the National Museum of Cambodia, housing the world’s most extensive collection of Khmer art.
Nicole Groslier Cambodia’s National Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

Nicole Groslier

Although she wasn’t even two years old at the time, one petite French girl named Nicole has held the National Museum of Cambodia in her heart since that day…and with good reason. Her father George Groslier designed the museum, became its first Conservator, and devoted his life to preserving and perpetuating the art and culture of Cambodia.

Born in Phnom Penh in 1887, George Groslier was educated in France, and then returned to Cambodia in 1910. Service in WWI called him back to Europe but when the war ended he returned to his birth country with his wife Suzanne,  spending the rest of his life devoted to the arts, culture and people of Cambodia.

Nicole Groslier was born in Phnom Penh in 1918 and, like her father, has held a lifelong love for Cambodia and her people.

02 1920 April 13 National Museum Albert Sarrault Cambodia’s
National Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

On April 13, 1920 an H.M. King Sisowath presided over the inauguration of the National Museum of Cambodia. Museum architect George Groslier is seated far left. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

In 1920, H.M. King Sisowath attended the auspicious New Year’s Day inauguration of Cambodia’s first national museum, along with a host of international dignitaries. The facility was initially named for Albert Sarraut, former Governor General of Indochina. Sarraut’s political efforts gave George Groslier the opportunity to design and organize this monument to Khmer art that still today is synonymous with traditional Khmer architecture.

From childhood to maturity, Nicole Groslier would visit her father at his museum office marveling at the magical world of Khmer imagination. Nicole’s first true memory of visiting the museum is in January 1922, when she attended a special ceremony welcoming Marshall Joseph Joffre to Cambodia.

03 1922 Groslier family at function PP 500 Cambodia’s National
Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

Nicole Groslier attends her first formal museum event with proud parents Suzanne and George. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

04 1922 Museum Joffre January 500 Cambodia’s National Museum Marks
90th Anniversary

Marshall Joffre was honored by this ceremony at the National Museum of Cambodia. Nicole is standing directly in the center of the action. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

Marshall Joffre became one of France’s most senior officers in World War I after replacing the popular Philippe Pétain during the Battle of Verdun in 1916. H.M. Sisowath himself then took Le Maréchal to tour the temples of Angkor.

05 1922 Joffre+Sisowath at AW 500 Cambodia’s National Museum Marks
90th Anniversary

H.M. King Sisowath took Marshall Joffre on a tour of Angkor after the museum event.

Throughout his career, George Groslier continued his efforts as museum director to catalog the vast collection and to share his appreciation for Khmer creativity with the world. These dramatic photos from Nicole’s personal archive show the museum nearly inundated by the seasonal floods of the Mekong River in the 1930s.

06 1934 EST Flood palace or museum 4 500 Cambodia’s National
Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

Mekong floodwaters mirror the national museum's Khmer architecture. Circa 1934. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

07 1934 EST Flood palace or museum 3 500 Cambodia’s National
Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

Two men in a pirogue paddle by the museum entrance. Circa 1934. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

George and his wife Suzanne had two more children in Cambodia. First, Gilbert in 1924 and then their youngest child, Bernard-Philippe Groslier (below), in 1928. Inspired by his father, Bernard-Philippe also pursued a lifetime career focused on Cambodian history and Khmer culture.

08 1938 EST GG Bernard sailboat 500 Cambodia’s National Museum
Marks 90th Anniversary

George Groslier and his son, Bernard-Philippe, who also grew up to become a noted archeologist in the field of Khmer studies. Photo courtesy Nicole Groslier.

10 2008 National Museum shine 500 198x300 Cambodia’s National
Museum Marks 90th Anniversary

The museum's central courtyard remains a peaceful focal point, surrounded by Khmer art.

From its opening, the museum has attracted enlightened scholars whose work illuminates the mysteries and beauty of the ancient Khmer race. Jean Boisselier and Solange Thierry both added their talents to improving the museum. From 1956 to 1966, the museum flourished under the direction of Mme Madeleine Giteau, who occupied the same official residence as the Groslier family, just behind the museum.

In 1966, Chea Thay Seng became the first Cambodian Director of the museum, as well as Dean of the newly created Department of Archaeology at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). At the origins of this university we find the Ecole des Arts Cambodgiens that George Groslier organized in 1920. It’s goals remain the same, to intimately link students, artisans and teachers working to preserve and perpetuate Cambodian cultural traditions.

Since Cambodia’s  liberation and the restoration of a government by the people the museum has grown under the guidance of two Directors, Khun Samen and Hab Touch. In 2010, the museum’s second female Director, Mrs. Oun Phalline, assumed this vital administrative role.

09 Museum of Cambodia logo 500 Cambodia’s National Museum Marks
90th Anniversary

Today the National Museum of Cambodia houses one of the world’s greatest collections of Khmer cultural material including sculpture, ceramics and ethnographic objects from the prehistoric, pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and post-Angkorian periods. Its facility includes more than 5,000 sq. meters of space devoted to exhibits, restoration, offices and meeting rooms.

Masterpieces of Khmer culture Cambodia’s National Museum Marks
90th Anniversary

Masterpieces of Khmer Culture

In 2007, the museum catalog, Masterpieces of the National Museum of Cambodia by Helen Jessup was published by Friends of Khmer Culture, offering art lovers and historians worldwide the opportunity to appreciate this extraordinary collection.

Article by Kent Davis, www.Devata.org

Special thanks to Nicole Groslier for sharing her photographs and memories.

 
Ancient Cambodian bronzes headed to Getty Center

The Los Angeles Times reported on March 30th, 2010 that

"For the first time, the J. Paul Getty Museum will be hosting an exhibition of artwork from Cambodia.

A collection of ancient bronze sculptures from the Southeast Asian country will go on display at the Getty Center in 2011. “Gods of Angkor: Bronzes From the National Museum of Cambodia” is set to run from Feb. 22 to Aug. 14, 2011.

The exhibition features work dating from the Angkor period, roughly from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The Getty said the show will also feature a small group of bronzes from the pre-Angkor period and some recently excavated works.For the first time, the J. Paul Getty Museum will be hosting an exhibition of artwork from Cambodia.

A collection of ancient bronze sculptures from the Southeast Asian country will go on display at the Getty Center in 2011. “Gods of Angkor: Bronzes From the National Museum of Cambodia” is set to run from Feb. 22 to Aug. 14, 2011.

The exhibition features work dating from the Angkor period, roughly from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The Getty said the show will also feature a small group of bronzes from the pre-Angkor period and some recently excavated works."

See Original article here

 


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