The new Gods of Angkor exhibit at the Sackler Museum in D.C. has shed light on the excellent work of Cambodia’s archaeological and art conservators. There’s a nice article about the Metals Conservation lab housed in the National Museum in Phnom Penh in the Christian Science Monitor.
Through a training partnership with the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries, a new crop of young museum professionals has risen to replace the lost generation.
“We can run the lab and do the conservation by ourselves,” says Huot Samnang, who heads the laboratory. “Step by step, we’re becoming self-sufficient.”
The “Gods of Angkor” will display some of the first pieces preserved entirely by the laboratory – a series of seven bronze Buddhist images. It is of no small significance in a country where cultural identity is intertwined with its rich Angkorian heritage.
The Ceramics Conservation Lab (which is also housed in the National Museum) also does excellent work. When I was doing my data collection in Cambodia I spent a lot of time working in the same lab area as the ceramics conservators at the Royal University of Fine Arts. I wrote about some of their work here and here.