Stolen Buriram lintel believed found in San Francisco

A lintel that was stolen from an Angkorian temple in Thailand’s Buriram province is believed to be found in a museum at San Francisco.

Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804
Lintel believed to be stolen from Buriram province. Source: Bangkok Post 20160804

Priceless Buri Ram lintel found in San Francisco
Bangkok Post, 04 August 2016

A Buri Ram-based conservation group has kick-started a campaign to press for the return of a “lintel”, a decorative object above a gate, believed to have been smuggled out of Thailand decades ago.

Tanongsak Harnwong, leader of Samnuek 300 Ong conservation group, said the pre-Angkorean lintel, which was made of white sandstone in the Kleang-Baphuon style and featured Lord Yama, or the god of death, surrounded by flowers, was on exhibition at the Chong Moon Lee museum in San Francisco. It was believed to have been stolen from Nong Hong temple in Buri Ram’s Non Dindaeng district some 50 years ago.

He said the group obtained a photo of the lintel and compared it with one taken by the late archaeologist Manit Vallibhotama, who took the photo of the famous Vishnu reclining on the Serpent Ananta lintel at Phanom Rung sanctuary, and found the two were identical. “They look like the same item,” said the businessman-turned-conservationist who was involved in the restoration of Nong Hong temple in 2002-2003.

Full story here.

Free entry in the National Museum of the Philippines

As of 1 July, admission to the National Museum of the Philippines is free for all nationalities.

Entrance to the National Museum now ‘permanently’ free
Rappler, 30 June 2016

National Museum admission now free – permanently
Philippine News Agency, via Interaksyon, 01 July 2016

– It’s been a day of new beginnings as the nation’s new leaders assumed of office on June 30, Thursday, but in addition to the good vibes, the National Museum has announced that entrance is “permanently free of charge for all visitors, Filipino or foreign, to its museums nationwide.

The Board of Trustees of the National Museum is implementing a new policy, effective by July 1, “in order to build upon signi涁ㄗcant spikes in viewership, especially among younger Filipinos, that have been observed in 2013-2015 and to date in 2016,” it said in a Facebook post

Full story here.

New book on Battambang Museum collection aimed at preventing sale of stolen statues

The Cambodian Museum of Culture has just published a book of stolen antiquities from the Battambang museum, a move which will likely assist in the future repatriation of artefacts if they show up in the art market.

Images from the Wat Po Veal museum. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160607
Images from the Wat Po Veal museum. Source: Cambodia Daily 20160607

With New Book, Quest to Recover Stolen Battambang Statues Begins
Cambodia Daily, 07 June 2016

The Ministry of Culture released a book on Monday of about 68 Khmer sculptures that were stolen from museums in Battambang City during decades of war and conflict, and intends to use the publication in a global search to recover the artifacts.

The result of a painstaking investigation by a restoration team from the National Museum assisted by the French School of the Far East (EFEO), the book proves that, until the early 1970s, the sculptures were at the Battambang Provincial Museum or the Wat Po Veal Museum.

“We want, first of all, to alert the owners of these pieces that what they have is illegally owned: This belongs to the national inventory of Cambodia,” said Anne Lemaistre, country representative for Unesco, which supported the book project.

Full story here.

North Korean Angkor museum sees few visitors

The North Korean Angkor Panorama Museum opened last December but is not receiving many visitors. Could it be because at $15, one might as well pay a little bit more and see the actual ruins a few minutes down the road?

Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: NZ Herald 20160602
Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: NZ Herald 20160602

Few visit North Korea-funded Cambodian museum
AP, via NZ Herald, 02 June 2016

A North Korean-funded panorama museum in the cultural hub of Siem Reap is getting few visitors.

The Angkor Panorama Museum, reported to have cost US$24 million ($35.2 million) to build, is just minutes away from the historic Angkor Wat temple complex, which receives millions of tourists each year according to Apsara Authority, the government agency responsible for the archaeological site.

However, on Monday there were few visitors to be seen, while museum director Yit Chandaroat admitted the tourist attraction was yet to pull in large crowds since its opening in December.

Full story here.

North Korea’s Angkor Panorama Museum

Another article about the new Angkor Panorama Museum and North Korea’s deep ties with Cambodia.

Angkor Panorama Museum
Angkor Panorama Museum

North Korea launches charm offensive, exports monumental art to long-time ally Cambodia
AFP, via South China Morning Post, 18 March 2016

In a vast parking lot outside Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temples complex stands a new museum built by North Korea, part of a lucrative charm offensive by a hermit state exporting its monumental art to a handful of foreign allies.

“When people come here sometimes they cannot believe their eyes,” said Yit Chandaroat, of the Angkor Panorama Museum, which opened in December after a construction process shrouded in secrecy.

“They really feel like they are back in the time of Angkor,” he added, referring to the world heritage site which comprises the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries.

Behind him stands the museum’s piece de resistance, an enormous 360-degree panorama that 63 North Korean painters from the state-owned Mansudae Art Studio toiled away on for more than a year. The mural, epic in scale and intricate in detail, covers an area larger than eight tennis courts and reflects the sweeping grandiosity for which Pyongyang’s artists are renowned.

Full story here.

The last Koh Ker piece will return soon

The last Koh Ker piece that is publicly accounted for, housed in the Denver Art Museum, is the process of being repatriated – undoubtedly due to the spate of high profile returns by museums abroad.

Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130
Source: Phnom Penh Post 20160130

Last Koh Ker piece coming home
Phnom Penh Post, 30 January 2016

In Visit, US Secretary of State Gave a Nod to Cambodian Antiquities
VOA Khmer, 29 January 2016

Cambodia is set to reclaim the last of the statues looted from the Koh Ker complex known to be kept in public collections, with a US museum agreeing to relinquish the piece from its permanent collection.

The statue of the warrior god Rama has been held by the Denver Art Museum for nearly 30 years. However, museum representatives said this week that the artefact will soon make its return to Cambodia, though an official agreement has not yet been reached.

The Rama torso – missing its head and its feet – remained on display in the museum’s Asian art gallery until last month.

“The Denver Art Museum is currently in the process of returning the 10th century Khmer sandstone sculpture to the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Christoph Heinrich, the museum’s director, wrote in an email to Post Weekend.

Full story here and here.

Angkor Panorama Museum an insight to North Korea’s international relations

An interesting insight from the articles is that despite its location beside the new ticketing ground, the museum itself doesn’t receive many visitors, leading the staff to switch off the lights and air conditioning when not in use.

Interior of the Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: New York Times 20160125
Interior of the Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: New York Times 20160125

An Art Powerhouse From North Korea
New York Times, 25 January 2016

The giant mural in the foyer depicting a smiling stone face offers a mere taste of the grandiosity within the new Angkor Panorama Museum here. Inside, a 360-degree painted vista covers an area the size of nearly four basketball courts. Over 45,000 figures populate this cyclorama, a depiction of 12th-century Angkorian history.

The museum, which opened in December, is a sweeping homage to what historians call one of the greatest cities in the world between the ninth and 15th centuries and the capital of the Khmer empire. But almost everything that went into this building — the money, the concept, the design and the artists — came not from Cambodia but from North Korea, namely, Mansudae, the largest art studio in that country.

At a time when much of the world’s focus is on North Korea’s mercurial leadership and nuclear capabilities, this studio’s work is quietly making its way beyond the borders of that hermit kingdom. In recent years, monuments and sculptures made by Mansudae artists, modern-day masters of Socialist Realism, have popped up in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and even Germany.

Full story here.

New Angkor museum a symbol of good relations with North Korea

Another story about the newly-opened museum in Siem Reap run by North Korea. It looks like the museum also has North Korean staff.

Mysterious North Korean museum opens in Cambodia
Japan Times, 18 January 2016

Yit Chandaroat, deputy chief of the museum, said he could see no other reason than seizing a business opportunity, citing the ever-increasing flow of foreign tourists visiting the Angkor Wat temple complex located nearby.

However, he did not rule out North Korea having the diplomatic motive of seeking to maintain its good ties with Cambodia and increase its footprint in Siem Reap well beyond two restaurants named Pyongyang.

The museum may also serve to promote North Korea’s identity, with visitors able to talk to North Korean women working inside, view paintings that depict the North’s mountain views and sample its ginseng tea.

According to Yit Chandaroat, more than 20 North Korean staffers are working there, including a dozen females.

Full story here.

Buddhist culture museum opens in Vietnam

A new museum featuring the Buddhist culture of Vietnam has opened in Da Nang.

The Buddhist Culture Museum in Da Nang. Source: Viet Nam News 20151225
The Buddhist Culture Museum in Da Nang. Source: Viet Nam News 20151225

Buddhist museum opens to public
Viet Nam News, 25 December 2015

The first Buddhist Culture Museum in the country was opened yesterday at the city’s Quan The Am (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) Pagoda with an exhibition of over 500 Buddhist antiques.

The museum, which covers over 500sq.m, also has ancient documents, statues and sculptures relating to Buddhism from the 19-20th centuries on show.

“It’s been a great effort by archaeologists, experts and monks at the pagoda to build the first ever Buddhism museum in Viet Nam with an extensive collection of statues and other exhibits,” said historian and deputy general secretary of the Viet Nam Scientific History Association, Duong Trung Quoc.

Full story here.

Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum to undergo assessment for renovations

The Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum, a small museum in the outskirts of Siem Reap, will have renovations planned for it in the near future.

Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum. Source: Khmer Times 20151215
Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum. Source: Khmer Times 20151215

Angkor Museum to Get Facelift or be Forgotten
Khmer Times, 15 December 2015

At the end of a long, narrow side road – down the block from the new North Korean-built Angkor Panorama Museum – the Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum sits hidden behind sparse patches of scrubs ten years after it opened its doors for the first time.

The little known and largely forgotten museum was first built to house more than 100 Buddhist statues discovered at Banteay Kdei temple by a team of Japanese researchers from Sophia University in 2000 and 2001.

The museum – established jointly by Sophia University and Apsara Authority – has expanded slowly over the past ten years to house two additional exhibitions of objects found during archaeological excavations in the Angkor Park.

At the December 4th opening ceremony of the Angkor Panorama Museum, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told the crowd of nearly 1,000, “We need more tourist products such as this to attract visitors to Cambodia…We want to see tourists stay longer in Cambodia.”

Full story here.