Artifacts – National Museum of Cambodia | Phnom Penh

The magnificent National Museum of Cambodia, built between 1917-1920.    The National Museum of Cambodia, holds many wonderful artifacts.

Majestic architecture and artifacts – National Museum of Cambodia

The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is a stunning architecturally designed building. The National Museum  constructed in  traditional Khmer style, consists of four rich terracotta colored pavilions. The four pavilions  surround a leafy green courtyard of tropical vegetation, interspersed with the brilliant yellow flowers of the Allamanda shrub.

Central to the inner courtyard is a graceful pagoda containing a Buddhist shrine. Standing ominously in the courtyard you may notice different artifacts and statues;  a statue of Yama, the God of death, another is the mythical Garuda. The interior of the National Museum is very contemporary in design, even by modern standards.

A brief history of the National Museum of Cambodia

The man behind the design of this magnificent building is George Groslier (1887-1945) who was a historian, curator and  an author. George Groslier is the person credited with being the motivational force behind much of the revival and interest in Cambodian arts and crafts.

National Museum Cambodia. Inner courtyard with Pagoda. Phnom Penh

Artifacts – National Museum Cambodia. Inner courtyard with Pagoda. Phnom Penh

Cambodian temple prototypes as seen on ancient bas-reliefs and artifacts are the basis for the design of the National Museum.The finished style of the Museum is an enlarged design, re-interpreted in such a way as to accommodate museum size display areas and requirements. What a brilliant design!

The design of the National Museum of Cambodia is  synonymous with traditional Khmer architecture.This building is just gorgeous in its design and richness of  terracotta color, look at the  roof line below. I just love it!

National Museum of Cambodia. Roof detail from inner Courtyard, Phnom Penh

Artifacts-National Museum of Cambodia. Roof detail from inner Courtyard, Phnom Penh

The foundation stone for the museum was laid on 15 August 1917. The museum, completed in 1920, became known as  Musée Albert Sarraut, after the  then Governor-General of Indochina. The Inauguration of the National Museum was held during the Khmer New Year on 13th April, 1920.

Phnom Penh city, evacuated during the years of the Khmer Rouge control 1975-1979, resulted in the National Museum being closed and abandoned. The Museum fell into a sad state of disrepair. The roof of the Museum suffered damage, and  became home to a large colony of bats. Many artifacts were lost or stolen. Sadly many former employees of the Museum had lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Following the downfall of the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, work was able to begin on the Museum. The National Museum was quickly repaired and reopened to the public in April that year.

Ancient Khmer statuary and artifacts at the National Museum of Cambodia

The National Museum of Cambodia has an impressive collection of historical statues and artifacts. It holds the best display of Khmer statuary in Cambodia, including a very significant sandstone statue of 12th century King Jayavarman VII. Other exhibits range from prehistoric to more modern times.

A special guide accompanied us on our tour of the museum. The  insight into the history of Cambodia through  the  ancient artifacts, relics and stone statues on display at the National Museum was fascinating. It made me all the more enthusiastic to visit Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor.

Lion Guardian at the the steps of the National Museum Cambodia, Phnom Penh

Lion Guardian at the steps of National Museum Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

It was disappointing that the museum did not have a better stocked souvenir shop. It would have been helpful to have a booklet with photos of some of the exhibits and notes on their history. Sometimes it is hard to retain all the information, no matter how interesting it is at the time.

The shy elephant – grounds National Museum of Cambodia

Coming into the grounds of the National Museum of Cambodia, one couldn’t help notice the shy elephant hidden in the shrubbery. Although not an artifact, he is worth a look?

Shy elephant amongst the shrubbery outside the National Museum of Cambodia,Phnom Penh

Shy elephant among the shrubbery-artifacts- National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh

The Monkey God or Hanuman

A statue of the Monkey God and a couple of old bronze bell are also relics and artifacts found in the garden of the National Museum of Cambodia. The Monkey God is known as Hanuman in the Reamker epic, and not considered a God, but becomes a mortal in the Khmer  interpretation of the Indian Sanskrit’s Ramayana epic.

A very busy morning, so much to see! Looking forward to a lunch break.

The National Museum of Cambodia, the Monkey King. Phnom Penh

Artifacts- National Museum of Cambodia, the Monkey King or Hanuman. Phnom Penh

The Location of the National Museum of Cambodia is on Street 13, next to the Royal Palace.

Entrance and ticket booth is at corner of Streets 13 (Preah Ang Eng) 13 and 178.

Opening hours 8am until 5pm daily. Last admission tickets sold at 4.30pm.

Admission $3 adults. Children and school groups free.

Guided tours arranged for people or groups at museum entrance. Tours available English, French, Japanese and Khmer. A one hour group tour costs $3.

Reading before you go:Have just discovered a couple of books on Amazon which provide information on the bronzes, stone statues and other relics in the National Museum of Cambodia, so now I can stop whinging.

Masterpieces of the National Museum of Cambodia
Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia.

Next – Lunch at the Lotus Blanc Practice Restaurant……….

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  1. Great info – Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hola! I’ve been following your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

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