There’s a new museum in Siem Reap, the Angkor Panorama Museum, which is built and funded by the North Korean government. I visited it on the opening day last week and it was a big information gallery of all the temples, but for the $15 price tag it might be a better idea to hop on a tuk tuk for the same price and see the real temples instead!
An Angkor-themed museum funded and operated by North Korea, but located in Siem Reap, is finally set to open after years of delays.
The vast Grand Panorama museum, set on a 4-hectare site just 3 kilometres from the temple complex, is due to open on December 4, according to Long Kosal, spokesman for the Apsara Authority, which manages the temples.
“Because of the current holiday, invitations to the opening ceremony have not yet been sent out, but they will be distributed soon,” he said.
Kosal added that the North Korean company that built the museum would run it, together with the government, for 10 years, during which time they would get back their investment plus profit. Management would then transfer to Apsara.
One of the greatest old-world-meets-new applications of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology is the potential for cultural and historical preservation. The ability to document and preserve precious artifacts in their current state, including distinctive marks, surface textures and coloration all in the finest of detail, means that even with the passing of time, natural disasters, or damage, future generations can appreciate and learn from the past. When he was just 17 years old, Quang Tri Nguyen recognized the importance of preserving Vietnamese culture—one of the oldest in Southeast Asia—and went so far as to drop out of school to dedicate his life to 3D scanning, documenting, and publishing digital 3D models of ancient Vietnamese sculptures on his website, VR3D.
Our van entered the Rangsit campus of Bangkok University and stopped in front of a sign for the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum. After walking down a slight slope, the museum is revealed to resemble a partially underground kiln. Founded in 2000 and opened to the public in 2005, the museum is home to over 16,000 ancient ceramics donated by university founder Surat Osathanugrah. About 2,000 of these items are on view at the current exhibition.
After strolling past the model of a northern-style cross-draft kiln and showing our Muse Pass, we entered the museum that has just reopened after the post-flood renovations. The permanent exhibition highlights the development of Southeast Asian ceramics, especially those from major kiln sites in Thailand, as well as the history of Thai and other Southeast Asian trade ceramics based on evidence found at shipwreck sites in this region.
The display of different ceramics on the sand caught our eyes. The first space reflects that pottery found at archaeological sites dating from 1380-1430 had been from all across Southeast Asia, including Thailand (Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai and San Kamphaeng kiln sites), Vietnam and China. At the time, the Chinese traded ceramics of celadon and brown-glazed wares, but there was no blue and white wares at all.
The second space shows trade ceramics from Thailand, Vietnam, China and Myanmar, which date back to 1488-1505 and were commonly found on shipwrecks. The third space displays artefacts from a period of competition between Thai and Chinese ceramics from 1520-1560. Thai kilns in Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai produced large numbers of underglaze black ware, a competitor to the Chinese blue and white ware.
Plans to relocate the artefacts from the Nakhon Pathom Museum to another province were axed after fierce protests from locals in the province. The Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum houses a number of artefacts from the Dvaravati period, spanning the 4th – 10th centuries.
The Culture Ministry has decided to shoot down a proposal to make changes to the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum following strong protests by locals.
The Fine Arts Department, which is supervised by the ministry, is working on the proposal as it tries to improve museums in the face of staff shortages and budget constraints.
The proposal, however, has enraged people in Nakhon Pathom province as they suspect the department wants to take artefacts and historical items from the only national museum in their hometown.
Locals do not believe the department’s explanation that antiques from the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum would only be put on display temporarily at the Uthong National Museum in Suphan Buri province – or to be exact – only when the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum is relocated to another better-equipped venue.
The scepticism arose when word spread that the department planned to close or merge nine museums.
At first glance, Wat Chai Mongkol in Sakon Nakhon looks like a typical Buddhist temple. But it houses a recently-discovered archaeological site dating back 1,800-4,500 years.
Called the “Ban Don Thong Chai Archaeological Site”, the museum has been open to the public since the beginning of the year. The site is about 19 rai with the entrance behind a prayer hall of Wat Chai Mongkol.
Visitors are initially greeted with a blueprint of the temple’s grounds with markings of the 40 pit sites. Brief information is included about the ancient people who lived in this area, outlining three major periods which can be segmented the same way as Ban Chiang.
For readers in Bangkok, Dr Joyce White will be giving a talk at Thammasat University at the end of the month.
Preserving Heritage through Building Partnerships
Date: 30 January 2015
Venue: Multipurpose Hall 3, 5th Floor, Room 513. Thammasat University, Bangkok
Time: 1 – 4pm
Register via this link: http://goo.gl/forms/pEsvv4tG0j